.J V /
THE ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Pallida Mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas
Regumque turres. Hor. Lib. i. Od. 4.
With equal Pace, impartial Fate
Knocks at the Palace, as the Cottage Gate.
• S f^
DANCE OF DEATH
FROM THE DESIGNS OF
WITH METRICAL ILLUSTRATIONS
BY THE AUTHOR OF
' DOCTOR SYNTAX '
A NEW EDITION
METHUEN AND CO.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
The various ways, the various shapes,
By which imprison'd man escapes
From Life's enclosure, to the clime
That beams beyond the reach of time.
The narratives of every day
Do to reflection's eye display.
Naked we issue from the womb,
Naked we seek the destin'd tomb :
What troubles are we form'd to brave.
Between the cradle and the grave,
If 'tis the sacred will of Heaven
That years and length of days are given !
The new-born infant, with his breath.
Imbibes the mortal seeds of death ;
VOL. II.— A
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And ev'ry day and ev'ry hour
May yield him to the Tyrant's power.
While hanging on his mother's breast,
Nourish'd and fondled and carest,
How oft he mocks the tender care
That dotes as he is clinging there :
He scarce moans forth one feeble cry,
And his first morrow sees him die :
Nay, e'er his eyes behold the sun,
Perhaps his puny race is run.
If Death could feel, its stern decree
Would spare our prattling Infancy :
That age whose looks, whose words dispense
Th' attractive charms of Innocence ;
That April morn on which appears
The blended scene of smiles and tears,
Whose pantomimic grace affords
The meaning of half utter'd words :
But Infancy's enchanting smile
Does not th' unpitying power beguile ;
For when the fatal arrow flies,
The prattler's dumb, — the Cherub dies.
Nor yet when Reason's dawning hour
Beams on the mind its rip'ning power,
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And from the Nurs'ry goes the Boy,
His Father's Heir, his Mother's Joy,
To sink beneath the rigid rule
Of some learn'd Pedagogue at school ;
Yet still he grieves not, as he views
The early flowers which Science strews
Around his path, while she bestows
The chaplet rude to deck his brows.
What though his unform'd thoughts impart
The glowing virtues of his heart ;
What though the lovliest bloom appears,
Fair promise of maturer years,
While Hyacinthine ringlets grace
The rosy honours of his face,
Death, in an unexpected hour,
May crop at once the op'ning flower,
So sweet, so pleasing to the eye ;
And, as its promis'd virtues die,
Leave fond Affection, where they sleep,
To rear the sculptur'd tomb, and weep.
The Age of Passion next succeeds : —
Love wounds; the tender bosom bleeds ;-
Young Honour wakes the glowing fire ;
The eager ear to Pleasure's lyre
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Enraptur'd yields, nor thinks the strain
Which Syrens sing can foster pain.
Love's arrow rankling in the breast
Not only robs each hour of rest,
But, barb'd with hopeless passion, proves
The dart of Death to her who loves.
— How many an ardent warrior stains
With his young blood, th' embattled plains ;
When the plum'd helm and pomp of war
Are left to grace the funeral car :
And ah, too oft, in Life's gay bloom
Licentious pleasure finds a tomb.
Reason, that grave, and solemn sage.
In vain may ope th' instructive page,
To guide the ardent hopes of youth
In the unerring ways of truth ;
In vain with awful voice impart
Its sober warnings to the heart,
Where the warm passions claim controul.
O'er the best impulse of the souL
— If Reason finds her efforts vain,
The Dance of Pleasure leads to pain ;
And all the gifts that Fortune pours
Prove poison, deck'd with fading flowers.
— If hurrying passion leads the way.
And governs with superior sway,
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If it looks round for its delights
In fev'rish days and wanton nights,
'Tis not the mind alone that lies,
Depriv'd of its best energies ;
But Life itself may find its fate,
A painful end, a shorten'd date.
Then come the years, when other cares
x\nd other wants our nature shares ;
Ambition claims the anxious hour,
And seeks the dang'rous road to power.
— Perils surround the giddy heights,
Whose sun-clad eminence invites
The votaries of Pride to find
The Rod by which to rule mankind ;
The art their rivals to subdue
And gain the honours they pursue :
But while the cringing croud below
To the rais'd Idol humbly bow ;
The dark storm lowers, the summit shakes, "]
Wakes, in amazement sad, to feel
The sudden whirl of Fortune's wheel,
Nor daring his disgrace to brave,
Forsaken, sinks into the grave.
Upon his head the tempest breaks.
And from his dream the proud man wakes:
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— Wealth too, the busy wish employs,
And added gold the mind enjoys.
How many, quitting health and ease,
'Mid storms and tempests plough the seas.
To distant climes delighted roam,
To bring the gainful venture home.
But oft upon some distant coast.
They and their treasures all are lost.
At length comes the concluding stage
Of Life's long, weary pilgrimage ;
When Age has caught us in its clutch,
And the weak limbs demand the crutch ;
When wrinkled brow and hoary head
Mark that so many years are fled.
Too blest, if Wisdom doth befriend
And teach our life to love its end.
But still unsung the various ills
Which man throughout Life's journey feels ;
Or hanging daily o'er our head,
We all are doom'd to know, or dread,
And serve to checquer every scene,
Where casual pleasures intervene.
The noisome pestilence by day
That makes of crowds a sudden prey ;
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The dart that in the darksome night
Swiftly wings its secret flight :
The slow disease and subtle pain
Which Nature 's destin'd to sustain ;
The loud and agonising groan
That waits upon the racking stone;
The shaking Ague's wasting power,
And the fierce Fever's raging hour :
The Paralytic's trembling hand
That its own Master's fond command
Refuses to obey ; the ear
That numb'd and deafen'd cannot hear
When all the organs of the eye,
Darken'd, in dim suffusion lie ;
And every ray of cheering light
Is lost in everlasting night.
Such are among the evils sent
To plague our fleshly tenement ;
But there are others which we find
The busy Tort'rers of the mind.
Do we not see what numbers prove
The wounds of disappointed Love ;
And all the jealous pangs that wait
Upon a favour'd rival's fate ?
8 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
— What anxious cares disturb his breast,
Who early rises — late takes rest ;
And, though borne on by Fortune's gale,
At length may find his prospects fail :
Just as he thinks the voyage o'er,
Resolv'd to risk and toil no more.
He may be wreck'd upon the shore.
— To-day a hated foe is seen,
With scornful air and haughty mien,
Enjoying all the prosp'rous state.
Which Chance has given to make him
To-morrow, weeping we attend
The Dirges of a faithful Friend.
— The loss of Honour's due reward ;
By Vice the meed of Virtue shar'd, —
— The noblest feelings of the heart,
Become the Dupes of knavish art.
— Justice perverted, and the Laws
Check'd in their course by quirks and flaws.
Or, turn'd and twin'd, too often prove
Worse than the wrongs they should remove.
— Pretending Friendship's fair deceit ;
And false caresses of the great ;
The Courtier's Lie clad in grimace,
Th' unfeeling heart, with smiling face ;
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And Calumny, for ever wrong,
With Aspic poison 'neath its tongue,
An Angel's virtues will decry,
By the shrewd hint or bare-fac'd lie,
Which the apt world too well receives,
And listens while the Falsehood lives.
— Again, — what various trouble fills
The Volume of domestic Ills,
The wife weeps o'er the Husband's bier,
A Husband dead demands the tear ;
A child with all its promis'd bloom,
Sinks prematurely to the tomb,
And various accidents befall
The common progress of us all.
Such are the woes ordain'd by Fate, ^
In which it seems our mortal state r
Must more, or less, participate : j
Though thanks to Heaven, while these annoy.
We have a portion too of joy.
But still, whate'er may be our share
Of mortal pain and human care,
'Tis Heaven inflicts, and man should bear. .
What, though self-murd'ring Brutus bled.
And Gato made the weapon red
10 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
In his own blood, the Stoic's rage
That shines upon th' Historic page,
Must yield, in energy of mind.
To him who, patient and resign'd
To Heaven's high will and wise decree,
Whate'er the heavy trial may be,
Beneath it all lives bravely on.
Till Nature's doubtful course is run.
Philosophy, in all its Pride,
Cannot defend the Suicide
By any Law, by any rule
In Reason's or Religion's school :
Life 's the peculiar gift of Heav'n,
And He alone by whom 'tis given,
Can have alone the power to give
The stroke by which we cease to live.
Is Man to say — I 've reach'd the goal,
I'll now dismiss th'imprison'd soul;
With my own hand I '11 ope the way
From its base tenement of clay;
Tir'd of its suff 'rings here below,
I '11 loose it from this scene of woe ;
I '11 prune its wings and let it fly,
To seek again its native sky :
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Yes, I will quench my mortal breath, .
I '11 be the judge of Life and Death. —
But should, in its immortal sphere,
Say, should th' unsummon'd soul appear
What, what may be the sentence there !
Stay then thy hand, e'er 'tis too late,
Nor madly rush upon thy Fate !
Thou shudd'rest at the horrid mood,
When Murder drinks a brother's blood ;
And dare you hope for Virtue's crown.
When your arm'd hand draws forth your own !
Does He the high behests fulfill.
Of Heav'nly power, of Heav'nly will,
Who, with a murm'ring tongue complains.
That he is charg'd with mortal pains.
More than his frame is form'd to bear ?
Will he his Maker's Laws declare
Harsh and unjust ; — shall he, weak man,
Through Passion's mist, presume to scan
The views mysterious that guide
Our passage o'er the tossing tide
Of chance and pain ; — Say, shall he dare
To fly what he was born to bear,
Nor ask of Patience to supply
The strong and guardian panoply.
12 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
That, in each trial, will befriend
His warfare to th' appointed end.
The very structure of our frame
- Does Self-destruction's crime disclaim.
Man may announce, — I '11 move, I '11 run,
I '11 speak, I '11 gaze, — and it is done.
The limbs are prone to his command :
The nimble feet, the grasping hand,
And every organic sense
Submits to his Omnipotence : —
But, if he idly says, — I '11 die ; —
Nature refuses to comply :
Weak is his unassisted will ;
And his mere wishes do not kill.
But, if determin'd to succeed.
And perpetrate the fatal deed,
He must, alas, call to his aid,
Th' exploding burst, the sharpen'd blade,
Or poison'd cup, — or end the dream
Of Horror in the troubled Stream.
Reason 'tis not, as some have said,
By vain Philosophy betray'd.
To Life's apportion'd ills to yield,
And force Death to th' untimely field.
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— 'Tis the Disease that 's sometimes seen,
With pallid look, and haggard mien,
Which its black visions doth impart
To sadden, and to chill the heart ;
While Melancholy, silent maid.
Of its own gloomy thoughts afraid.
Refines the musings that supply
The wish, and the resolve to die.
— Or it is Passion's raging burst
That seeks the best and does the worst.
Whose impulse, to reflection blind,
Drives reason from the startled mind ;
And aggravating, by its power,
The poignant suff 'ring of the hour,
Hastes the dread comfort to prepare,
And finds the refuge of Despair.
Alas, I 've such a tale to tell
Of one who lov'd, but lov'd too well.
The Fair was grac'd with every charm
That can the coldest bosom warm ;
And Virtue's self was seen to shine
In the warm breast of Caroline.
The Youth, to whom her heart she gave,
Was noble, generous and brave ;
14 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And that, which in return was given.
She thought the precious boon of Heaven.
Hymen was summon'd to adorn
His Altar on the following morn,
At that morn's dawning Henry 'woke,
Expected joys his slumbers broke :
He saunter'd forth to catch the breeze
That curl'd the bosom of the seas,
And while he pac'd along the shore,
Counting his future pleasures o'er,
He saw a shallop foundering nigh ;
He heard Despair's alarming cry,
And boldly plunging in the wave,
The sinking Mariner to save,
He found himself a wat'ry grave.
— The tidings to the Bride were brought,
In frantic haste the spot she sought ;
And viewing, from the heights above.
All that remain'd for her to love,
She darted headlong to the tide.
And on her Henry's bosom died.
Their tomb is rais'd upon the shore,
And round its base the billows roar :
There oft the Seaman slacks the sail.
And to the Stranger tells the tale.
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CHAMPAGNE, SHERRY, AND
Two aged men, but of what sort,
'Tis not material to report :
Suffice it, as the story 's told,
They both were very, very old,
And had attain'd to full fourscore,
Though I have heard, 'twas somewhat more.
Their cheeks with ruddy colour glow'd,
Their hoary locks in ringlets flow'd.
And such their strength and sprightly air.
That strangers who had view'd the pair.
Would have suppos'd they could not boast
Of more than sixty years at most.
— On being ask'd what means they took
To cheat age of its wither'd look,
The one, in grave and solemn pride
To the Enquirer thus replied.
* Through the long course that I have run,
This maxim I 've pursu'd, — to shun
l6 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Intemperance, and all its brood
Of vices that inflame the blood ;
Or check its current through the veins,
Engend'ring endless aches and pains.
I never, like an hungry beast,
O'ercharg'd my stomach at a feast ;
Nor, by a glutton maw misled,
With season'd meats the juices fed,
Forming gross humours which, by stealth,
Prey on the vital source of Health.
I never pass'd the feverish nights
With Bacchus, and his madd'ning rites ;
Ne'er lost my Reason, gift divine,
In bowls of riot-stirring wine ;
Nay, I can boast, I ne'er was found
Drunken, and senseless on the ground :
Ne'er did I sober hours pollute,
By turning man into a brute.
My Beverage, let the Drunkard sneer, —
Was sought from rill and fountain clear.
Hence equal spirits cheer'd the day.
With calm, but yet, enliv'ning ray ;
Nor do wild Fancy's dreams affright
The tranquil slumbers of the night.
Ne'er sought I sensual Pleasure's bower.
To waste and dissipate the hour ;
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Nor did I in those scenes engage,
Which shorten youth and hasten age,
Hence I see, and who will doubt me,
My children all grow old about me ;
Who, having liv'd by my sage rule.
Do credit to their Father's school.
Thus, fearless of the world to come.
Time will conduct me to the Tomb ;
And for the years that yet remain,
If sorrow they should bring, and pain,
I still shall bless th' Almighty power,
Whose goodness rules Life's every hour,
To his decrees submissive bend,
And patient wait my Journey's end.'
He ceas'd, and having told his tale,
Approving smiles around prevail.
— The other then was ask'd to tell
What He had done, to look so well :
To bear his age with such a grace,
And scarce a wrinkle on his face.
He, with a smile sarcastic spoke,
As half in earnest — half in joke.
' Through the long course that I have run,'
My maxim always was to shun,
Whate'er I thought a foe to fun.
VOL II.— B
1 8 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
I was a young unlucky Dog,
But honest, and ne'er play'd the rogue :
All kinds of Gambols I preferr'd,
But then I never broke my word ;
And I can say, in looking o'er
My life, from twenty to fourscore,
It was the burden of my song,
Never to do my neighbour wrong ;
And, 'twas my practice and delight,
Always to do my neighbour right.
So far, so good ; and for the rest,
Why — I did that which pleas'd me best.
— I never did my thirst controul
When I beheld the flowing bowl ;
Nor was it known that Thomas Hearty
When join'd with any jovial party,
E'er felt a melancholy shock
To hear the cry, " past four o'clock,"
Unless he felt it as a warning
Of the dull period of the morning,
When Phoebus, in his gilded cart,
Would shortly bid them all depart.
I, through my Life, a jolly fellow,
Scarce went to bed but I was mellow ;
And I 'd a head, a gift divine,
That never felt an ache from wine :
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 9
Nor did my stomach play the trick,
However fill'd, of being sick :
Nor was my reason ever lost
So as to run against a post ;
Nor could my Cups my senses smother,
That I took one door for another.
Besides my wife, if she were here,
But she has reach'd a better sphere.
Would say that, though her Tom might roam.
He always brought good humour home : —
For though I sometimes chang'd the feast,
I always lov'd my Dolly best :
New Beauties might a flame impart.
But she alone possest my heart.
— I ne'er to wine was a Defaulter,
And therefore never call'd for water,
That meager, mawkish, tasteless thing,
From running rill and chrystal spring.
'tis a beverage, I must think
Fit but for Fish and Beasts to drink.
— Nay, when my dearest Partner died,
And I sat sadly down and cried,
1 almost turn'd my sobs to laughter
To think my tears were made of water.
Besides, I have my children four.
Who are now verging to threescore :
20 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
They all partake their father's joys ;
I crack my bottle with my boys.
— My daughter has reach'd fifty-five,
The very best Old Maid alive :
Who, though a beauty, ne'er could find
A Husband suited to her mind.
how I like my Moll to see
Dropping the good thing in her tea ;
Nay, I could hug and kiss the Lass,
When she says, " Sir, another glass."
1 think I should with pleasure throttle
To hear her say, "another bottle."
Whatever time I 'm doom'd to last,
may it all be like the past :
And till I reach my latter end.
Enjoy my bottle and my friend,
As it has been my constant song.
Never to do my neighbour wrong ;
As it has been my fond delight,
Ever to do my neighbour right,
1 need not surely be afraid,
When Death shall call me to the shade.
But if, at length, before I go,
The Powers above will have it so.
That I should feel the twinging gout,
Bacchus shall try to drive it out :
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 21
Though if the Foe 's resolv'd to stay,
I '11 calmly let him have his way ;
And if the Doctors breed a riot
With draught and pill — I '11 scorn their diet ;
I '11 take my glass, — and die in quiet.'
Such was Tom Champagne's pleasant tale,
Nor did the boozing mortal fail
To toast the man who loves his friend,
And fills his bumpers to the end ;
Nor e'er will quit the running spout.
Till his Life's ruby cask is out :
Then, turning to his comely Dame,
He bid the Lady do the same —
' Here by my side is neighbour Sherry,
Who never sorry is, or merry ;
Who on a chicken wing can dine.
Content with thimble-fulls of wine.
He talks, and chuckles as he speaks
Of mad Intemp'rance and its freaks :
But faith, I laugh at all his prosing,
A Life like his is only dosing :
He only can be said to wake
Who freely does his bumper take.
Ned hints a smile, but if he'd quaff
The jovial bowl^ he 'd learn to laugh :
22 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Did he regale on ham and chine,
He 'd have a shape as round as mine : —
His fatten'd cheeks Hke mine would glow,
Where wrinkles are not seen to grow ;
But he pursues his mawkish dream,
And looks for fat in curds and cream.
— Nay, there 's Sir Jemmy in the corner,
But not like sing-song Jacky Horner,
Feeding on beef and Christmas pie.
But lapping up his Firmity :
He 's one of those, as I 've heard tell.
Who think it vulgar to be well,
And deem it elegance to sit,
Vap'ring in melancholy fit.
He suffers life to run to waste
In what your fine-bred folks call taste ;
So smooth, so polish'd, so refin'd.
That the firm energy of mind,
Which ought to be our mortal boast.
Is in the soft embroid'ry lost ;
And then each gawdy whim is seen
Through the transparent Fillagreen ;
While his pure, sentimental flame
Relaxes the whole nervous frame,
And shows him to the passing eye,
A poor, weak, flutt'ring butterfly.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 23
Sago, Panada, and the doses
Which the Physician's pen composes,
Is the Chevalier's daily theme ;
And, I presume, his nightly dream.
All this is bad, but, what is worse,
He turns his Cook into a Nurse ;
And watches her the morning long
Lest she should make the broth too strong.
'Tis true, I sometimes steer this way
To give his sinking spirits play :
To cheer his heart with friendly Joke,
And make his wintry chimnies smoke ;
To set his wond'ring pots a boiling,
And keep his brisk Champagne from spoiling.
— I 've not, my friend, forgot the time,
When you and I were in our prime :
'Twas when we both had just left college.
Though you, I own, had all the knowledge ;
But then you let loose your caprices.
And with your Sisters and your Nieces
Humdrumm'd away your fine-spun Life,
For you ne'er stumbled on a wife ;
And though you were so good, 'tis certain,
You could play tricks behind the curtain.
Come then, throw off your cap and gown.
And let some maiden rub you down.
24 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Restore, I pray, each woe-worn feature,
And be again a human creature.
Change to good fare your starving diet :
Kick up a dust and breed a riot.
Be not so sad, nor shake your head ;
And keep those looks till you are dead.'
' Thou jovial, noisy, pleasant wight,'
Replied th' exhilarated Knight,
* You never will your fancy balk.
Whenever you 've the itch to talk ;
Nor ever were you known to pass
In silence, your too frequent glass :
But well I know thy friendly heart.
How gen'rous, how devoid of art !
And though you rather stun my ears,
Your humour still my spirits cheers.
While you the plenteous goblets quaff,
And at my whims and fancies laugh,
I know full well you cannot steel
Your breast, against the pains I feel :
And much I wish your Life my Friend,
May not to draughts and ddses tend :
For many a one may laugh to see
Tom melted down -as thin as me.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 2$
E'er a few fleeting years are past,
He may to slip-slops come at last.
That you have laugh'd at me is true ;
'Tis what you 've long been us'd to do ;
But younger folks may laugh at you.'
* You may believe, my good Sir James,
I '11 sooner plunge me in the Thames,
Than be like you Mortis Imago ^
And think it life to live on Sago. '
When Nature burns out all my fuel
And pins me down to water-gruel,
I '11 call on Death to intervene,
And close at once the Milksop scene.'
Thus in sarcastic tone he spoke,
And as he schem'd another Joke,
The Spectre from the corner creeps,
And o'er the sick man's shoulder peeps.
Tom felt surpris'd, then gap'd and star'd,
But his stout spirits were not scar'd :
Nor did he e'er for mercy crave.
When two full bottles made him brave.
Thus in his view the figure stood
That camiot boaat of il£sh ^nd blood-
26 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' I see,' says Tom, ' you 've got a glass.
But I '11 not let the bottle pass :
Turn out the sand, and let me fill in,
A Nectar that is worth the swilling.'
— Death grinn'd a smile, and shook his head,
And stretch'd his fleshless arm a.nd said : —
' Know, that I 'm now dispos'd to feel
A longing for a meagre meal ;
And He on whom I 've laid my paw,
Is the next morsel for my maw :
But I shall surely leave you quiet,
Till I 'm in search of fatter diet.
'Tis true, you Topers sometimes stay,
When sober folks are caught away ;
But Temp'rance is, as you should know.
To Health a Friend, to Pain a Foe ;
That Virtue forms a fav'rite rule
Which Wisdom teaches in her School ;
And Master Sherry, who sits there.
Nor smiles with joy, nor frowns with care,
Will dance with me, in easy pace.
Long after yoii have run your race.
— Sir James was well, but not content.
To ev'ry learned Doctor went
To make him better and you see
His picture of Mortality.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 2/
— As life is ever running fast,
And I must have you all at last,
I '11 tell you, and I '11 tell you true.
What 'tis you mortals ought to do.
If you to Life's remotest date,
Would keep my visit from your gate ;
— Extremes endeavour to forego —
Nor feed too high,— nor feed too low :
A MEDIUM I would recommend
'Tween Tom and his departed Friend.'
28 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Ask Nature when her powers impart
The strongest impulse to the Heart ?
When she the fondest passion moves,
And the most heighten'd feeling proves ?
— Ask when the first of joys appears,
Though often shar'd with torturing fears ?
It is not when she gives the grace
Of Beauty to the living face,
Or bids the form, with plastic art,
To harmonise in ev'ry part ;
'Tis not when she the mind prepares
For Reason's power and growing cares,
Or watches the progressive plan
Of Life, through every stage of man.
— If she should answer, she would tell,
What she well knows, and feels so well : —
'Tis when she gives to be caress'd
An Infant to the mother's breast ;
'Tis in that feeling where excels,
How^'^r enjoy'd, is happiness.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 29
In all the forms that Nature gives
To ev'ry work of her's that lives,
Whether in fashion weak, or strong,
That to the air brings forth its young,
Affection's first great Law applies,
To nurse their various progenies.
— The Tigress tender fondness owns.
And the whelps hear her soften'd tones :
The fell Hyena gentle grows,
As she the liquid food bestows
On her young cubs ; and, o'er the brood,
Almost forgets the scent of blood.
Thus while the soft, maternal flame.
Is seen the wildest brute to tame ;
It wakes the tim'rous fowl to dare
The fury of unequal war :
She seeks the foe with ruffled plumes.
And a fierce, threat'ning mien assumes ;
Which, when a Mother's cares are o'er,
The coward Bird assumes no more. —
As her alarm'd uplifted eye
Beholds the mischief in the sky ;
When, sailing through his airy way,
The Kite is watching for his prey ;
She spreads her wings to guard her young,
And clucks the Danger with her tongue :
30 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
While ev'ry bird that flies at large
Instructs us in a parent's charge.
Can then the woman e'er be found,
By the first Laws of Nature bound,
Who dares, in careless mood disclaim
The nursing Mother's tender name ?
Say, in the breast that yields the tide,
Which fost'ring Nature's springs provide.
The suckling's nurture to supply.
Will she by art the channels dry ;
And let the new-born babe be thrown
Upon a bosom not her own ?
'Tis even so : such Mothers live
Who to their Infants do not give
The Milk that Nature's self prepares ;
Whose stream their children claim as Heirs,
And Heaven's all-sacred Laws ordain
The new-born Cherub to sustain.
Yes, there are Mothers — yes, who dare,
Soon as it breathes the vital air.
While it unfolds its opening charms,
To yield it to a stranger's arms ;
And let the helpless babe be press'd.
Unconscious to a stranger's breast.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 3 1
— Does not a chilly stream impart
Its shudder to the feeling heart ?
Does not the mind disgusted turn
When the tale's told, and frowning spurn
Th' unnatural mother, when she tears
From her full paps the Child she bears ?
While thus to chance the bantling 's hurl'd,
She gives her fondness to the world ;
And, as she haunts where Pleasure reigns.
Forgets she felt a Mother's pains.
— Haste, haste, Dorinda, from the throng,
Quit the gay dance and warbling song ;
You 're call'd, with pale and trembling mien,
To view a sad, heart-rending scene :
— Haste to thy Infant, and prepare
To view the Horrors of thy Care :
The foster-mother feels no more,
Than its own parent felt before :
Drown'd in inebriated sleep,
No vigils can the Drunkard keep.
—Death rocks the Cradle, as you see.
And sings his mortal Lullaby.
No shrieks, no cries will now its slumbers
The Infant sleeps, — ah, never to awake !
32 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
He, who with care and much ado,
Has chang'd one blade of grass to two ;
He, who an acre too has plough'd.
And with good seed that acre sow'd ;
He, who to the Earth has given
A Tree, to rear its boughs to Heaven,
And, with a chaste and loving wife.
Gives but a single babe to life :
Has, as 'tis said, by one whose name
Stands foremost on the roll of Fame,
Perform'd, in philosophic view,
All that a Man 's requir'd to do :
This done, each social claim is paid ;
And when in Earth his bones are laid,
The sculptor'd stone may truly tell
That he has liv'd and acted well.
But what says Science to the Rule
Thus taught in simple Nature's school :
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 33
That Science which pursues her way,
Through gloomy night, or glaring day^
Creation's ev'ry work explores ;
Digs deep for all the hidden stores
Which the Earth's darksome caves contain,
And dives within the wat'ry main ;
Expatiates through the fields of air,
And sees the storms engender'd there ;
Or boldly bids her daring eye
Explore the wonders of the sky ;—
While Genius, to no spot confin'd,
That brightest offspring of the mind,
Ranges at will, through Space and Time,
In ev'ry age, in every clime ;
And, oft its glorious toil to crown.
Creates new Systems of its own.
— Such are the classes that embrace
Man's social, cultivated Race :
And, as each acts the part assign'd.
It helps, in due degree, to bind,
By harmonising, just controul.
The gen'ral order of the whole.
Now Master Senex, who was bred
To guide into the youthful head,
VOL. II.— C
34 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Not that poor Two and Two make Four,
Or that three Twenties form Threescore ;
But the nice, calculating play
Of Decimals and Algebra;
With Problems and the curious store
That 's found in Mathematic Lore.
He always felt himself at home
When 'mong the Stars he chose to roam.
And, for a frisk, would sometimes stray
Delighted in the Milky Way.
Would bask in the Meridian Noon,
And clamber Mountains in the Moon.
He would the Comet's course pursue.
And tell, with calculation due,
^ How many million miles it posted,
While a small Leg of Mutton roasted.
And how many a thousand years
Will pass before it re-appears.
— He never for one moment thought
But of the Sciences he taught :
Him never did the Fancy seize
Of ploughing land, or planting trees ;
Nor was the sober Sage beguil'd
To be the Father of a Child.
A Sister, an old saving Elf,
Who was as barren as himself,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 35
Added a figure to the scene,
And dress'd his meat, and kept him clean.
One Evening, as he view'd the sky.
Through his best tube, with curious eye
And 'mid the azure wilds of air,
Pursu'd the progress of a Star,
A Figure seem'd to intervene,
Which in the sky he ne'er had seen ;
But thought it some new planet given,
To dignify his views of Heaven.
' O this will be a precious boon !
Herschell's Volcanos in the Moon,
Are nought to this,' Old Senex said ;
' My Fortune is for ever made.'
— ' It is, indeed,' a voice replied :
The Old Man heard it — terrified ;
And, as Fear threw him to the ground,
Through the long tube Death gave the
Though Senex died no thunder roll'd,
No lightning flash'd, no tempests growl'd :
Nor did the Pleiades descend.
In rain, to weep their faithful friend :
36 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Nor would the Moon in sorrow shroud
Her silver light within a cloud :
Nay, not a single sigh was given
By any Star which shines in Heaven.
ENGLISH DANGE OF DEATH 37
THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY
At Bristol, as the Story 's told,
Or in some other place as old,
The Healing Doctors, when they strive
In vain to keep sick folks alive.
Are, by the common Custom led
To pay their duties to the Dead :
The Patients whom they cannot save,
They always usher to the grave,
Nor quit at once, the friends who fee'd 'em.
But to their long last home precede 'em ;
Bearing, if still the traffic thrives,
Silk scarfs, and hatbands, to their wives.
To whom these presents come so pat
To make a bonnet, or a hat ;
While half a dozen put together.
May form a gown for wintry weather ;
Or serve an oeconomic turn,
If they should have a cause to mourn :
Nay if the Dead Man 's rich, d' ye see.
They get a ring that 's worth a fee.
38 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Thus, though they neither sigh nor grieve,
It is genteely taking leave :
Besides, 'tis right to set before us,
Whate'er is decent and decorous.
I cannot say I like the Galen^
Who, when he finds his Physic failing,
Nor can restore, with all his art,
The vital pulses of the Heart,
Walks off, and feels no other sorrow,
But for the Fee, he '11 miss to-morrow.
— I lately read a curious tale,
Where Truth and Fancy both prevail.
But few will their assent refuse
To this effusion of the Muse.
Eugenio was the best of men,
I wish there were one such in ten ;
Nay, 'twould improve the human brood,
If a tenth part were half as good.
So many virtues, and so rare,
Did his benignant bosom share,
That, if Man could perfection know,
It shone in my Eugenio.
He was his parent's darling joy,
A lovely, tender, duteous Boy:
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 39
From day to day, from year to year,
Along the gradual career,
From Youth's gay season to the prime
Of Manhood, through that doubtful time.
He ne'er disturb'd a Mother's rest,
Nor pain'd a watchful Father's breast.
— His wedded Love a blessing prov'd,
To her whom he most fondly lov'd ;
And after twenty years were past,
The well-known Flitch was claim'd at last.
— Nor did his virtues less proclaim
The Honour of a Parent's name :
He watch'd, with never-ceasing eye.
O'er his lov'd, num'rous progeny,
Who form'd a regulated stage,
From infant years to youthful age ;
And promis'd all that 's good and fair,
Beneath his never-ceasing care.
His Friendships were to few confin'd,
And they were of the noblest kind :
But in warm Charity's embrace,
His Nature clasp'd the human race.
Whene'er Old England ask'd his aid.
Each claim of Loyalty was paid :
The manly flame, the patriot zeal,
His bosom never ceas'd to feel ;
40 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Nor e'er did Misery complain,
Or ask his helping hand in vain.
— Learning he lov'd, but never sought
Delusive Science, that is taught
By false and by fantastic rule
In Fancy's bower or Sceptic School ;
He, from the purest fountains, drew
The knowledge which the wise pursue ;
Profound and useful and refin'd,
To gild and to instruct the mind.
While fair Religion's sacred Lore,
Sanctified the varied store.
— Such was Eugenio : — If to these
Are join'd the wish and power to please,
Reflection's eye the whole may scan.
Of this incomparable man.
Wealth did his days with plenty crown,
And wide Domains were all his own.
— But he was not exempt from fate :
The evils of our mortal state
He felt like other men : Disease
Did oh his yielding vitals seize.
The Fever rag'd, the Doctor came,
But could not cool the fatal flame ;
He fear'd the worst, and ask'd the aid
Of some learn'd brother of his trade :
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 4!
But the two Doctors both agreed,
No mortal Med'cine could succeed ;
But still it would be well to try
What further Counsels may supply : —
A Third appears, and says no more
Than what his Brethren said before.
They saw Death in his pale array,
So took their Fees and walk'd away.
— Amid the tears, the sobs, the sighs,
That round expiring virtue rise,
The Tyrant stretch'd his arms well pleas'd,
And soon th' expiring victim seiz'd.
The Wife around her Husband clung.
The Children on their Mother hung ;
And all that view'd the scene exprest
The meanings of an aching breast.
' Cease,' said Eugenio, * cease to grieve,
' And these my parting words receive :
* With patience bear the stroke that's
/ given : —
* Be good, — and leave the rest to Heaven.
* O let not Sorrow heave a sigh,
' When thus you see a christian die.'
42 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
THE FALL OF FOUR IN HAND
The crime by which the Angels fell
Who aim'd at Heaven and sunk to Hell,
Is known on Earth — nor does it fail
In human bosoms to prevail
With the like Influence, and extends
Its wish to Earth's remotest ends :
Nay, if its fierce, subduing Sword,
Like that of Macedonia's Lord,
Should make th' affrighted world turn pale
And many a nation weep and wail.
Would weep itself, when all was won.
For other realms to be undone.
'Tis strange, alas, 'tis wond'rous strange
That mortal man should wish to change
The heart-felt pleasures that await
On Virtue's all ennobling state
And risk his goodness to be great ;
Uncertain that he e'er shall gain
The point he wishes to attain,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 43
Or if attain'd, that in an hour
Fate may not by its deadly power
Destroy the labours of his pride,
And lay him breathless by their side.
The man to whom is handed down
Through many an age the regal crown,
And bears within his scepter'd hand
The power a nation to command,
Possesses, from his Royal Birth,
The means to be a God on earth ;
Honour and Justice to maintain,
By wise, protecting Laws to reign ;
To cherish Industry and Arts,
And live within the grateful hearts
Of subject millions, who can boast
The Sov'reign in the Father lost.
Is there on earth so bright a state
As his on whom a people wait
For ev'ry good that Life can give,
And from his power that good receive ?
What sounds so grateful to the ear
Can a wise, patriot monarch hear,
As when a Nation's voices rais6
The song of Universal praise?
44 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Thus may a Sov'reign truly prove
Vice-gerent of the Power above.
Say, is it Glory's nobler aim
To win by War a Conqueror's name ?
And is it Honour's highest meed
To make a Nation's bosom bleed ;
To mount Bellona's armed car,
And plunge into the thickest war;
Or is it for a people's good
To seek for Laurels steep'd in blood ?
Is it the guerdon of the brave
To murder, ransack, and enslave?
A monarch gains not fair renown
Nor gives true Lustre to his Throne,
By seizing countries not his own.
That Diadem 's the brightest far
Which bears no type of bloody war ;
But where sweet peace is seen to shed
Its mild beams round the Sov'reign's head.
But should some hostile Neighbours dare
To force him to reluctant War ;
Should they with bold, ambitious aim
Announce in arms the lawless claim ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 45
Or, tempted by the rich domains
Where Fortune smiles and plenty reigns,
Should pointed spears and plumed helms
Invading threat his peaceful realms,
He will assume his martial pride,
With Courage stalking by his side :
Then will he sound the loud alarms
To call his faithful bands to arms ;
Each Peasant then will quit his field,
Gird on his sword, and poise his shield ;
And ev'ry heart with ardor glow
T' obey the call and meet the Foe :
Then will he find no Bulwarks prove
So strong, as is a Nation's Love.
Thus as he ev'ry right defends,
Just Heaven its fav'rite's cause befriends ;
Nor will the heroic contest cease,
Till the Foe, humbled, sues for peace.
Thus ev'ry passion of the mind,
As 'tis to good or ill inclin'd.
Advances or recedes in price.
And forms a virtue or a vice :
Nay, sometimes, as it yields its claim,
Is even found to change its name.
Thus the fervent, bold desire
That does to arduous deeds aspire,
46 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Which, in its eager progress warm,
Ne'er suffers dangers to alarm ;
With Fate and Fortune will contend,
To gain some great, momentous end,
Is call'd Ambition ; — but applied
To common things, that, on the tide
Of ev'ry hour we floating see,
'Tis Love of Praise or Vanity :
And these, howe'er conceal'd by art,
Glow more or less in ev'ry heart ;
In ev'ry form and shape appear.
That Folly or Caprice can wear.
Look round, and view the various ways
Mankind employ to purchase praise ; —
The fulsome Offering to secure,
What will not Vanity endure :
The sleepless night, the daily toil.
The pale lamp and the midnight oil.
Are borne or lighted up to gain
The flatt'ring tale, th' applausive strain
Which Int'rest offers to the vain.
'Tis not his darling Country's cause.
Or Freedom's violated Laws ;
'Tis not the poor who suffering stand,
Scourg'd by Oppression's Iron Hand :
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 47
'Tis not the vengeance to arrest
Which rankles in the angry breast :
'Tis not to check with words austere
The cunning Lie, or taunting Jeer,
That Paulo, of his talents proud,
Seeks to address th' assembled crowd ;
At Democratic Feasts to dine.
And mingle Speeches with his wine.
Or in the social circles play.
The self-same game another way :
Ho, 'tis to court the loud Huzza ;
To hear the plates and tables rattle,
At his success in wordy battle ;
Or, sitting round the wintry fire,
Where Witlings, and fair Dames admire.
Thus have I seen a branchy tree
Show its fair form and symmetry.
That rises stately from the root ;
Though not a bough is deck'd with fruit.
— But still some talents are required
To make these Orators admir'd ;
And with the Hear-kims, common Pride
May feel itself quite satisfied.
But there are those, and often seen,
Who feel a pride in being mean ;
48 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And chuckle at the very thought
How cheap a stinking Mack'rel 's bought ;
While others, proud to be profuse,
Buy costly Blacking for their Shoes,
And give what ten poor folks would dine,
To make their daily Buskins shine.
— Now, of all those who proud of sinking,
And of the Art of never thinking,
Sam Jehu was, 'tis said, well known
As the best Whip about the Town :
His Father had been proud of thriving.
But Sam was proud of nought but driving;
And all his old Dad's Will bestow'd
Was nobly spent upon the Road.
Whate'er Long- Acre could devise
Of Curricles and Tilburys ;
Barouches, Gigs, and Phaetons,
With every Machine that runs,
Form'd, in their turns, Sam's darling Pride,
At once their Owner and their Guide.
To-day he drove his matchless Greys,
To-morrow, his fast-trotting Bays ;
And, in the way of common Hacks,
He had a famous set of Blacks.
He knew Horse Language to the Letter,
Not Gulliver could speak it better :
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 49
Could swear, drink drams, and chew a Quid,
Proud to do all that Coachmen did,
And calmly did his teeth displace,
That he might spit with better grace ;
Delighted that no one could scan
He had been bred a Gentleman.
And as he drove his steeds along,
This was the burden of his song :
When House and Land are gone and spent
Driving will be most excellent :
And when all other Fortunes fail.
Thank Heaven, I can drive a Mail.
But Fate, 'tis known vain Fools to humble,
Will sometimes give such fools a tumble.
Sam, one fine day, in all his pride,
With a fair Doxy by his side.
Was trotting on to leave behind
The common coursers of the wind,
In more than Phaetonic state.
For every horse had won a Plate :
Nay, out of compliment to Fan,
He was dress'd like a Gentleman.
Now, to avoid the Coachman's ken
Or jeering Quiz of Turnpike-men,
VOL. II. — D
50 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
He left the common-road, afraid
Thus to be seen in Masquerade.
Through a long range of Lanes he went
On the rough roads and ruts intent,
Nor was Miss Fanny satisfied
Thus to be jolted side from side j
Though, to beguile the shaded way,
She made her Hat with Hawthorns gay.
At length Sam saw an awkward Bridge ;
Beside him was a stony ridge ;
And, in the rocky Vale below,
A rapid stream was seen to flow :
The hurrying Eddies hoarse resound ;
Th' affrighted Steeds snort, fling and
And threaten to refuse command,
E'en from their skilful Master's hand.
For the first time, the Charioteer,
Felt his heart palpitate with Fear.
— He cried, what can the Cattle mean ?
And, as by no one I am seen,
I do declare I should be glad
That I a tight Postillion had,
To check those Leaders, who are mad.
' Thou hast thy Longing,' Death replied ;
* I '11 quickly mount, and be your guide :
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 5 1
The useless reins resign to me :
I '11 lead you to your Destiny.'
— He spoke, when straight the wheels upflew,
And from his seat the Coachman threw ;
Who rolling round, and round and round,
Flounc'd in the water — and was drown'd.
Poor screaming Fann v, in a tree,
Was sav'd by dint of Drapery :
She, for a while, suspended hung,
And to the prickly branches clung.
A Cottage gave a week's relief.
To cure her scratches and her grief;
And, when she came to Town agen,
She sorrow'd — and turn'd Magdalen.
But Vanity will oft extend
Beyond our Life's extremest end,
Will nod in many a sable plume.
And flatter on the marble Tomb.
Thus Sam had will'd in solemn guise.
The order of his obsequies ;
And, punctual to his wishes, they
Were marshall'd in this sad array.
His gloves and whip, in due parade,
Were on his sable coffin laid :
52 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
The Coffin, on the traces slung
Of his Barouche, suspended hung.
His four unrivall'd Arab Greys,
With trappings deck'd, his corse conveys :
His fav'rite Coachman had the Pride
To drive it to the Church-yard side ;
And, having done that duty, swore
He ne'er would mount a Coach-box more.
The Parson who before him rode.
Was left the Mare which he bestrode.
His Horses, in black cloathing led,
Add to the Honours of the dead :
His Grooms conduct them, clad in sables,
With the young Genii of the Stables ;
Who, having sung a solemn stave,
Throw all their Whips into the Grave.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 53
Life is oft liken'd to the Stage,
That equal Glass of ev'ry age,
Where its true characters are shown
To each attentive Looker-on :
Where gay and grave, and old and young,
Their story tell in prose or song.
There varying passion plays its part,
And ev'ry tell-tale of the Heart
Does, to the list'ning ear, expose
The warm delights, the chilling woes,
That in the human bosom reign.
And form the source of Joy and Pain.
— But be it known, we do not mean
To enter on the Tragic scene,
Where Warriors or where Kings rehearse
In solemn strains and pompous verse,
The Battle's glory or the fate
That marks the contest of the great ;
Or where advent 'rous Champions prove
The ardour of Heroic Love.
54 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Nor do we look to that strange creature,
Which has no Prototype in Nature ;
That feeds on Fashion, and appears
To live by nailing down the Ears :
A flimsy, gay, fantastic show
Deck'd out in gawdy Furbelow
Yclep'd an Opera : — No, we sport
Where Nature and her train resort,
And the gay Comic Muse pourtrays
The common scenes of common days ;
Where we the mirthful bev'rage quaff,
And still grow better while we laugh.
Here nat'ral failings are disclos'd,
And bold infirmities exposed ;
While Virtue, steer'd by Reason's Card,
Attains its merited reward.
Humour's broad Phrase, its poignant stroke,
The moral point, the homely joke,
By strong and happy contrast tend
The mind to cheer, the heart to mend :
While in the progress of the scene
Th' unlook'd for projects intervene ;
And should all other Fancies fail,
Hymen or Death may close the tale.
Nay, sometimes, as I have seen, forsooth,
The well-drawn story ends in both.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 55
Old Gaffer Goodman, who had spent
His days among the wealds of Kent,
A Yeoman hearty, bold and free
Had gain'd the age of seventy-three ;
And, as some other fools have done.
Married a Girl of twenty-one.
A Nurse he wanted, and he chose
A Maid w^hose cheeks were like the rose,
And with an azure sleepy eye
That mark the tender Sympathy,
Which could not find a counterpart
In Gaffer Goodman's shrivell'd heart.
He felt the Sacrifice she made.
Which, to his utmost he repaid.
Fair Sally's Family were poor,
But now they shar'd her Husband's store.
On ev'ry Sunday, in a Pew,
Sally dress'd out appear'd to view;
And as she smiling pass'd along
Was honour'd by the rustic Throng :
For in the Parish it was said
That the Old Man his will had made,
And left her, as it would appear,
At least three hundred pounds a year ;
With all his cattle and his flocks,
And store of Gold in Iron Box,
56 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Which he most strictly watch'd and kept
Beneath the Bed whereon he slept.
Besides, at Village-fair on May-day,
She gave a Prize and play'd the Lady,
While the Old Man was pleas'd to share
The honour which was shewn her there.
But though Dame Nature daily told
That she was young, and he was old,
And bid her in the mirror true
Her own enchanting image view ;
Yet howe'er conscious of her beauty.
She acted each domestic duty ;
Nor ever wish'd abroad to roam.
But nurs'd her Hub, and staid at home.
With her fair hand so smooth and sleek.
She 'd stroke his brow and pat his cheek ;
And, when the household cares were done,
Would read some story full of Fun,
Make his fat sides with laughter shake.
And keep his drowsy eyes awake ;
Or, while she spun, his heart would cheer,
With any song he wish'd to hear.
But still, with all her sense and truth,
Spite of herself, the tender Youth,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 57
Whose humble virtues had possest
The wishes of her youthful breast,
E'er wealth or an awakenM pride,
Had made her Gaffer Goodman's bride,
Would sometimes on her fancy steal,
And what she wish'd to hide — reveal.
Nay, at the window as she sat.
He would propose a friendly chat ;
And, as the whirring wheel went round,
Old Gaffer only heard the sound.
Whose noise the tender converse drown'd-
She heard fond Strephon with delight.
But still she did not think it right ;
And when he tun'd a Shepherd's song,
She listen'd, but she thought it wrong.
He brought her ribbons from the Fair,
She took them, but she would not wear
The blushing gift. At length, she said,
' No, Strephon, though you may upbraid,
And think I was a faithless Maid,
Let Reason sway and Passion cool,
You '11 think I must have been a fool.
Had I preferr'd to live with thee
In Labour, Love, and Poverty :
In Love that might so soon be past,
And Labour that through Life would last.
58 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
I 've done the best, though somewhat loth,
If you are prudent, for us both.
While Gafifer Goodman lives, I '11 be
A Pattern of Fidelity ;
So dare no more the tale to tell,
Which once, perhaps, I lik'd too well.
— My parents now in comfort live,
I give them all I wish to give :
My Mother, she is near threescore ;
My Father, he is somewhat more : —
That they from want, and toil are free,
I owe to Gaffer's Love for me.
— I 've heard too much, I '11 hear no more : —
So give this talk and sing-song o'er;
Nor ever offer to my ear
What my Old Man ought not to hear :
— Be prudent, with due patience wait,
And trust me for your future fate.
'Tis more than I ought to impart.
But 'tis to ease your honest heart.
When I declare that I '11 be true
To Gaffer Goodman, and to you :
And when he does his breath resign.
Be wise — and, Strephon, I '11 be thine.'
^ — ' Then take her, Strephon,' Death replied,
Who smoking sat by Goodman's side :
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 59
• * Her Husband 's gone, as you may see,
; ' For his last Pipe he smok'd with me.'
Though a rich Widow and a Beauty,
Sally perform 'd the usual duty.
I Though many a wealthy Yeoman su'd
And a brisk. Country Justice woo'd,
Twelve months she pass'd in grateful pride,
E'er she her mourning laid aside :
But when at length the time was come
That she could take a Husband home,
Sally her early choice preferr'd.
And with her Strephon kept her word.
60 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
THE URCHIN ROBBERS
No Fault appears to be more common
In Reason, or of man or woman,
Than to apply it, as seems best,
To what is thought their Interest,
Leaving the more enlighten'd few
Its native dictates to pursue.
— The Lawyer never will say fie on 't
To aught that furnishes a Client ;
— The Broker judges of events
By their effect on three per Cents. ;
With him the glory of the Nation
Is that which fits his Calculation ;
And, as he is a Bull or Bear,
Will pray for Peace, or wish for War.
— The Politician 's never hearty
But for the Interest of his Party ;
And ever zealous to foment
The cry of public discontent.
He prays that all in power be driven
Out of their ministerial Heaven.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 6l
And he has Reason on his side
Such as it may be, for his pride
Or wants may then be satisfied :
As by such change he may insure
A Place, a Name, or Sinecure.
Nor is there to be found the man,
Thriving by money-getting Plan,
Who does not to one reason hold,
A reason that is made of Gold.
Fancy will sometimes take the lead
And play its part in Reason's stead.
— The Virtuoso is profound
In all the wonders that abound
Through Nature's realms, with all the store
She yields to him who dare explore
The mountain's top, the secret cave.
Or shores lash'd by the briny wave,
For what is beautiful or rare
That she has lodg'd or planted there.
He reasons on the wond'rous power
That, from Creation's awful hour.
Has teem'd in never-ceasing birth,
As if to renovate the Earth
With fresh materials, to maintain,
From Time's wide waste, old Nature's reign.
62 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Then in bold, pompous language wields
The Doctrines which each System yields
That sage Philosophers have shewn ; —
And closes boldly with his own.
Nature's first works, he says, are met
Within his costly Cabinet ; —
Then opes a Drawer, and slowly shows
His Shells, arrang'd in various rows ;
And disappoints th' expecting eyes
With Insects, and with Butterflies.
Caelia was by her Father told
To take a Husband rich and old.
When Caelia's secret wishes lay.
As it fell out, another way.
A country Squire, in glowing youth,
Promis'd Fidelity and Truth,
With a fair rent-roll that was clear
i\.t least twelve hundred pounds a year,
And all the joys that suit a wife
Contented with a rural Life.
Caelia receiv'd his am'rous tale
Nor thought the vows she gave could fail.
Now every night she fondly dreams
Of shady groves and crystal streams ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 63
Nor to her friends will ever own
That she e'er wish'd to live in Town.
But he had not attained the age
Which gave him up his Heritage ;
Three months must pass to leave him free
From Guardian's care and Custody ;
And then 'twas hop'd Papa would crown
His wish to make the Fair his own.
— In the mean time, for so it prov'd,
Sir Edward saw the Fair and lov'd ;
When she receiv'd Papa's command
To give her heart and yield her hand.
She felt what tender maidens feel,
Nor could at first her sighs conceal ;
As sudden disappointment crept
About her heart, she sometimes wept.
— But, in due time, sage Reason came
And help'd to quench the wav'ring flame ;
For soon she too herself confess'd
Papa must know what 's for the best.
A coach and six and liv'ried train.
With mansion fair and large domain ;
A fine Town-house in some fine Square,
With all the pride of Fashion there
Would a more solid blessing prove,
Than in the woods to live on Love.
64 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Cynthio is good, but he 's so young,
And youthful passion ne'er lasts long.
She reason'd thus, and set at rest
The faint punctilio in her breast.
To Cynthio then she wrote to say,
Papa commands, I must obey ;
— To-morrow is my Wedding Day.
But Int'rest still its office finds
In vulgar, as in higher minds ;
When Discontent its tale will tell
In the same way, though not so well.
Thus Wat, the Gard'ner, thought it hard
His toil should fail of its reward :
When east-winds blew and blossoms blasted.
That all his labour should be wasted ;
When in the space of one short night
His hopes should sicken at a blight :
For though he knew he must supply
Deserts with Garden Luxury,
And that my Lord would curse and swear,
Did he not find abundance there j
Wat would contrive, a cunning elf.
To smuggle something for himself :
The finest fruit he would purloin.
With, now and then, a swinging pine ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 6$
Plumbs, peaches, apricots, and all
That grew in hot-house, or on wall ;
And would the secret Cargo send.
To some good Covent-Garden friend.
Nor did his Conscience give a twitch
At robberies that made him rich ;
But when the unlucky Urchins dare
Mount o'er the wall and seize a share,
His rigid virtue was alarm'd.
And, at one morning's dawn well-arm'd.
He watch'd, and when the robbers came
Let loose the Dog, and took his aim.
No sooner had his Musquet popp'd.
Than from the Wall a youngster dropp'd.
* O Heavens,' he cried, ' what have I done ?
' I only meant a little fun :
* I only wish'd to wake their fears
' By rattling shot about their ears,
* And scare them, that they might refrain
' From ever coming here again.
' I should be worse than any brute
* To kill a boy for stealing fruit ;
* Besides, what Fate should I receive,
* If all were to be shot who thieve.
' Death is the worst of all our foes ;
* His stroke no mortal can oppose.
VOL. II.— E
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' 'Twas he, not I, the Urchin slew :
' What mischief has he made me do ! '
* Old Wat,' said Death, "tis very true.'
For while the Gard'ner took his aim.
Death stood beside the Melon frame.
And thus at once, alarm'd and cheer'd
The trembling Man with what He hear'd.
* I drove the Boy to scale the wall,
I made the affrighted Robber fall ;
I plac'd beneath the pointed stone
That he has crack'd his scull upon.
I Ve been his best and guardian Friend,
And sav'd him from a Felon's end :
Scourging and Lectures have been vain ;
The Rascal was a rogue in grain,
And, had I lengthen'd out his date
The Gallows would have been his Fate.
You living people oft mistake me : —
I 'm not so cruel as you make me.
And now restrain your love of Pelf;
Pray look a little to yourself.
Virtue alone can joy impart.
For Guilt ne'er knows a joy at heart ;
And He, by all it is confest,
Who looks alone to Interest^
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 6^
* As you, Old Wat, must know, I trust,
* Is hastening fast to be unjust ;
* Or to employ a term in vogue,
* Now is, or soon will be a rogue.
' — The Boy is freed from worldly pain,
' He '11 ne'er climb walls or rob again :
* A dozen plumbs form'd all his treason,
' While you are robbing through the season.
' Something far worse than Gun or Shot,
* If you proceed, may be your Lot :
' So leave off thieving, Master Walter, —
* Or I may come, and bring a Halter.'
6S ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
DEATH TURNED PILOT
Among the Cares by which the breast
Of anxious mortals is opprest,
Are the prophetic doubts that wait
Upon their children's future fate.
Swath 'd in the cradle, they sustain
The troubles which they can't explain ;
And, when escap'd from Infancy
Their growing childhood is not free
From num'rous evils that attend
Life's passage onward to its end.
What pains and anguish might we name
That daily threat the human Frame !
What various casualties await
Life's active or inactive state !
What diff'rent forms Disease assumes,
And to what ills our Nature dooms !
Sometimes with a swift-winged power.
It hurries to the fatal hour ;
Or, with slow, undermining art,
Stills, by degrees, the beating heart.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 69
Then comes frail Youth's incautious hour,
And Passion's overwhelming power,
To fill with tears a parent's eye
Or wring his heart with agony : —
When no grave counsels will controul
Th' impetuous sallies of the soul ;
When no kind warnings will impart
Discretion to the erring heart ;
When fond Affection big with Fear,
Foreboding some dark peril near,
May call on Death to strike, and save
The Stripling in the sheltering Grave.
— But should the genial Offspring rise
To bless an anxious Parent's eyes.
While in the growing form they trace
The female charm or manly grace.
And view each opening virtue shine
That makes a mortal half divine ;
If Death should point his fatal dart
At such a much-lov'd victim's heart.
How great would be the Father's woe,
What bitter, ceaseless tears would flow
Adown the Mother's cheek, while sighs
Speak the rent bosom's agonies.
But still some comfort waits the doom
Of those we follow to the tomb :
70 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
With awe and solemn step we tread
The sacred mansion of the Dead ;
And see the holy honours paid
When, 'neath the marble they are laid,
Who were our heart's delight and pride,
And never griev'd us till they died.
E'en while th' afflicted spirits mourn,
And faithful fondness clasps the urn
That marks the spot where Friendship lies.
Or Love demands our Obsequies,
We can with less'ning grief declare,
The dust of those we lov'd is there.
While the Cypress shade we weave,
The sooth'd affections cease to grieve ;
And when we thus our thoughts employ.
Sorrow becomes a solemn Joy.
But we 've to tell another tale : —
O'er the wide Ocean doom'd to sail,
Two Maidens fair, in early bloom
Found in the deep a wat'ry tomb.
In India born, a parent's cares
Had sent them in their earliest years.
To pass, beneath a milder clime,
That doubtful, but important time
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 7 1
Of Female Life, which intervenes
Between its Childhood and the Teens.
Submitted to a Guardian's power,
Who, as the sun brings forth the flower,
Watch'd his young Indians to improve
With feelings like a Father's love.
He, to th' important duty just,
Fulfill'd with care the sacred Trust ;
And taught their early minds to glow
With all a Female ought to know.
The voice was tun'd to aid the Lyre,
Each Grace did with the Muse conspire.
And their respective powers combin'd
T' exalt the form and deck the mind ;
While all the Virtues play'd their part.
And took possession of the Heart.
Thus the fair infant plants, the boast
Of Coromandel's distant coast,
Foster'd beneath the genial skies
That Britain's happy Isle supplies.
Grew tall and stately to the sight.
In every youthful colour bright j
Nor did the Pride of Western Bowers
Excel these Eastern Sister Flowers.
72 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
At length, the fruits of Friendship's toil
Were summon'd to their native soil,
Prepar'd with every winning grace
To meet a parent's fond embrace,
Whose hopes were fix'd that they should find
The lovely form, the cultur'd mind ;
And when again, in all their charms.
The full-grown maids should fill their arms ;
With feelings rich in ecstasy,
They should the Infant Cherubs see,
Transform'd by Time and faithful Care,
A mortal Angel's shape to wear.
To Albion's shores they bade adieu ;
The white Cliffs lessen in their view ;
And all was Hope, and all was gay,
As they pursu'd their wat'ry way.
— But — e'er one fleeting moon was past,
With clouds the sky was overcast ;
With fearful force the tempest blows,
And wave on wave tumultuous flows :
The Sun, as he descends to rest,
Just marks with red the dusky West,
Till into darkness he declines.
And the whole Heaven to Night resigns : —
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 73
No ray of light is seen around,
The Moon and Stars in shade are drown'd; —
Thus Time, in its most dreadful Form,
Augments the horrors of the Storm.
As the rude, swelling surges roll,
No Power the Vessel can controul ;
She now defies the Steersman's skill,
And through the billows drives at will ;
The Keel no longer can abide
The floods that lash her weary side,
And gaping planks no longer brave
The force of the resistless wave.
— The Sisters, 'mid these dire alarms,
Were fainting in each other's arms ;
Or with loud lamentable cries
Told their heart-rending agonies.
— The toils of the alarming hour
The Crews exhausted strength o'er-power.
Some on the shrouds, before, behind.
Mount, as it were, into the wind ;
Some, clinging to the mast in vain
Are thrown into the yawning main ;
Others in haste the boat prepare.
The last faint hope in their despair ;
When, from the sinking vessel borne,
Through the fierce billows, all forlorn
74 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
They see Death sitting at the Helm ;
And, as the mountain seas o'erwhelm,
Amid the Storm's tremendous roar,
One shriek they give — and all is o'er.
The Sailor's form'd the storm to brave.
And calls the Sea the Seaman's grave :
But Beauty sure might hope to sleep
Where Graces mourn, and Muses weep ;
And claim, to deck its mournful bier,
The fond lament, the flowing tear.
— Ill-fated pair, you find a grave
Far, far beneath the Stormy Wave,
And the loud winds, in boistrous swell,
O'er the deep waters sound your Knell.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 75
THE WINDING UP OF THE CLOCK
Time has been call'd the Thief of Youth,
And so it may with moral Truth :
But 'tis alike the Thief of Age,
And jogs us on from Stage to Stage :
As in its course it passes on,
It steals a bit from ev'ry one :
Leaving each still the less behind,
T' improve his fortune or his mind.
To chronicle Time's ample space.
We years and centuries embrace :
The hours and minutes, as they pass,
Are told by Dial, Clock or Glass ;
But, measuring Time, ah ! thoughtless elves,
Know that ye measure but yourselves.
The Clock that faithful strikes the Hour,
Has struck that period from your power :
Its hand that runs the wonted distance
Runs o'er so much of your existence.
A Clock then is a wise invention
That answers a two-fold Intention :
76 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
It calls us off from idle pleasures,
For Life and Time at once it measures.
John Dunn had one ; but first of John,
'Tis fit some little should be known : —
For he was once a rosy Youth
Who came from the Swale side,
In Town to serve his 'prenticeship —
Of 'Prentices the Pride.
For strict and regular was he.
More punctual there were none :
To ev'ry one he gave his due.
But ne'er forgot his own.
His Master's Daughter, Judy fair,
He view'd with eyes askance,
For John had still the Yorkshire nack
Of minding the main Chance.
And lest the Father, rich and stern.
The union should prevent ;
To tie the sacred Knot by stealth
He gain'd the Maid's consent.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 77
John's seven years service at an end,
The marriage is avow'd.
When Dad consents, what can't be chang'd,
Were full as well allow'd.
Of a bad bargain make the best
Had been his maxim ever :
Whom God and John's good care had join'd
He knew no man could sever.
For the young pair he takes a house.
And Furniture provides ;
Beds, tables, chairs, an eight-day Clock —
And some few things besides.
Within the sound of great Bow Bell,
And with the Church in view,
John still prefers his own dear Clock —
It gave the time so true.
As other Clocks are wont to do,
It struck but once an hour ;
And often he had cause to wish
Ma'am's Clock would strike no more.
78 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
For she, but women all have tongues,
And, therefore, let 's not flout 'em.
What Nature gave, if they mayn't use,
They were as well without 'em.
So thought good Mrs. Dunn, and oft
Let Mr. Dunn to know.
Since he 'd become so rich and great,
Who 'twas that made him so.
Man is, 'tis said, a social creature.
And must companions find ;
In things of brute and lifeless nature,
When others prove unkind.
Thus when John Dunn, of his Wife's tongue
Too often bore the shock,
The good Man would in silence think —
My best Friend is my Clock.
At length, with rural notions fir'd
The Citizen would live retir'd :
That is — to get, as a retreat,
A handsome, spacious country seat.
Such as would suit his store of wealth,
And give both consequence and health.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 79
Hoggart and Phillips soon supply
A House might catch a Nabob's eye.
Lofty the rooms, grounds well laid out,
A garden well-wall'd round about,
And a clear streamlet full of Trout ;
A Lawn, with groves of stately trees,
Stables, cow-house, and piggeries ;
A dairy in the Gothic taste,
Within a fragrant shrubbery plac'd :
An Ice-house too the wine to cool,
And a Cold-bath that 's always full.
Around the whole rich fields were seen,
All clad in everlasting green.
In short, the spot possess'd the charm
To be a Villa and a Farm.
— Th' Upholsterer in every part
Expends the treasures of his art ;
Egyptian Stools, and Sofas proud,
And Chairs and Lamps th' apartments croud ;
With marble slabs and splendid Glasses,
Carpets so rich and China Vases :
Yet still the fav'rite Clock must come.
And click within the Breakfast-room.
Unhappy Man — hadst thou read History,
As well as the Stock Brokers' Mystery,
80 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
How dang'rous 'tis, thou wouldst have known,
Exclusive Fav'rites thus to own :
What caus'd our second Edward's end,
Was having Gaveston for a Friend :
And who knows what your Clock may do,
By some strange accident, to you.
The Clock arriv'd, but in such plight.
Its Master could not set it right ; —
How vex'd he was : — Not know the time.
Nor hear each hour the well-known chime !
For on the way the rumbling Cart
Had shook it in some tender part.
I 've sworn. He said, and still I swear it.
None but myself shall e'er come near it.
— At length set right, with much ado,
Again it told the time so true :
But what it tells it can't bestow,
A solemn truth that all should know :
Though old John Dunn, with all his rout
About his Clock, ne'er found it out.
The Day to wind it up was come.
The steps were brought into the room ;
When up he mounted, key in hand.
But, e'er he could his work command,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 8 1
They totter'd first, then toppled o'er,
And down he sinks to rise no more.
What follows, 'tis confusion all,
Poor Mrs. Dunn is heard to squall,
And shares her falling Husband's fall.
He felt the Lot of all mankind,
He died — and left his Clock behind.
But e'er it had with tell-tale power,
Through one short month declar'd the Hour,
It struck, to call the widow'd Spouse
To wed a junior partner of the House.
VOL. n.— F
82 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
THE FAMILY OF CHILDREN
In looking through each diff'rent state,
Wherein Mankind participate,
Philosophers can ne'er agree
On human Joy or Misery :
What 's the severest state of Woe,
Or greatest pleasure here below.
This knotty, subtle point depends
On such contrasted views and ends,
That how to draw the certain line
And with precision nice define,
What would imply extreme distress.
Or mark the height of happiness,
Is not within the narrow reach
Of what Philosophy can teach.
Horace has said, who was no Fool,
' As we all know who 've been at School,
That, on whatever project bent,
Man is the prey of discontent.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 83
Broken with toils, with arms opprest,
The Soldier thinks the Merchant blest ;
And when the threat'ning Tempests rise,
Arm me for war, the Merchant cries :
While he, who in the City lives.
Sighs for the peace the Country gives ;
The Country Folk unheard, unknown.
Think there 's no pleasure but in Town.
— Sir Frank pours forth his daily prayer
To Heaven, that He may have an Heir.
He joys not in his rural reign
O'er peasant tribes and large domain ;
For nought can please, or cheer his spirit.
Since there 's no Offspring to inherit :
While his near Neighbour, Jemmy Guest^
Of far inferior means possest.
Thinks hourly how to cut and carve,
Lest he, and sixteen Bairns should starve.
Hence 'tis, we see, both weak and vain
In erring mortals to complain :
For where 's the man in Life's vast range
Who would his whole condition change.
Ask one of his estate what share
He 'd give to purchase him an heir :
To answer you, though somewhat loth,
He might reply, he wants them both.
^4 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Then ask the other would he spare
Sir Frank a bantHng for his heir ;
No, not for all his golden store,
Though Heaven should send him twenty
Of all things going, Jemmy Guest
Lov'd his dear Wife and Children best ;
-And this he proved since he could claim
A Husband's and a Father's name.
When He first married, at his door
Was seen the dashing coach and four ;
But when five babes appear 'd in view,
It dwindled to a coach and two :
At length, when other five were able
To sit like Branches round his table,
The call of Prudence he obeys.
And only sports a one-horse chaise :
For Jemmy Guest was always loth
Beyond his coat to cut his cloth;
And when he heard the babbling sounds
Of full five more, He sold his hounds.
He thought he had enough to do,
For fifteen mouths to bake and brew ;
But, such was his prolific Dame,
As Time went on, another came ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 8$
And all his thought and all his care
Was how to spend and how to spare.
Though, still rewarded by the pleasure,
With which he view'd his filial Treasure,
As each in diff' rent charms appears,
From one month old to eighteen years,
His anxious fears he oft forgot.
Of what might be their future Lot.
When he beheld their Cherub Faces,
Their growing forms, their youthful graces,
He envied not the rich and great,
Who roll in wealth and live in state ;
And, as he view'd his num'rous care,
He would prefer the pious prayer :
That Heav'n would give them daily food-
Bless them with health — and make them
One morn at breakfast, as He sat,
Attentive to their various chat.
Death at the door in form appear'd ;
And, as aloft his arm he rear'd,
Jemmy began to stir and stare
And ask'd the Shape his errand there.
He grinn'd a ghastly smile, and said —
To follow his old-fashioned trade.
S6 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
To get a pretty little picking
Among this brood of human chicken.
Jemmy replied — I '11 ne'er consent
To such a barbarous intent :
Touch not, I pray, a single feather.
Take none, or take us all together.
— Think not, said Death, I '11 march away
And let my arrow lose its prey :
Why, here 's this brat so loudly squalling —
Leave him to me — I '11 stop his bawling.
— Poor little dear, it scarce can walk.
And has but just begun to talk.
— Then, there 's the Babe in t' other room,
Who will not talk for months to come.
— If from her Nursling forc'd to part,
T'would break the Angel Mother's heart.
Indeed I cannot spare you one.
So take us all, or pray be gone.
But if you must employ your dart.
E'er from this chamber you depart.
To me and mine delay the curse,
And make your meal upon the Nurse.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 87
An endless Labour it would be,
If through Life's vast variety,
We were our journey to pursue.
And bring each object to the view
Which court our notice as we pass,
And shew them all as in a Glass.
Where is the Canvas would contain
The Portraiture of ev'ry pain ;
Or whose most extended measure
Would give the scene of ev'ry pleasure ?
Where is the volume in whose fold,
Could, with due order, be enroll'd,
Whate'er has pass'd in hours like thine.
Or such an humble Life as mine ?
Direct your footsteps through the fields
And see what rural Nature yields :
Upon the Mountain breathe the gale.
Or court the Zephyr in the vale.
88 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Sit on the Rock's stupendous steep,
And view the wonders of the deep ;
Or stretch along the sandy shore,
And listen as the Billows roar ;
Then pluck, with more advent'rous tread.
The sea-shell from its briny bed.
— Now take your Tablets, and proceed
To write what other days may read ;
While Science doth her aid impart,
And moral truths flow from the heart :
But though the task should be begun,
When Nature hails the rising sun.
The orb will set, e'er it is done.
— Go where the Hedge, in thicken'd row.
Offers the flow'rets wild that blow;
Which, never nurs'd by cult'ring art.
To all, their humble charms impart.
They live through Summer's sultry day ;
Then shed their leaves, and pass away.
What though their tribes no perfume
Yet still they 're seen to form the wreath
That doth the auburn ringlets dress
Or bosom deck, of Shepherdess,
And form a subject for the page
Of Nature's work, by Nature's sage.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 89
Whate'er on Earth is seen to reign,
Whate'er its darksome caves contain ;
Whate'er the wond'rous deep unfolds,
Or the bright, starry circle holds ;
Or high or low, or great or small,
Man's Hist'ry comprehends them all.
In short, whate'er the Eye can scan.
Is, as it were, a part of Man.
All Nature, Art, whate'er appears
Of their long records, through the years
Which have pac'd on since years began
Is but the History of Man.
What has been written or been thought,
By wisdom or reflection brought.
Through the long course of ev'ry age,
By each philosopher and sage ;
All that 's possess'd of ev'ry lore,
Or heap'd in the collected store
Of Bodleian or Vatican,
Gives but the History of Man.
The space that he is bound to fill.
Is bright with good or dark with ill ;
It forms th' uncertain, checquer'd road
That leads us to our last abode :
go ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
But if our Life, as has been said
By one who well the subject weigh'd,
Is a disease, we may be sure,
That Death can be the only cure.
Hence the various forms that wait
Impatient at Death's rugged gate.
But happy, oh thrice happy they
Who do not hasten on their way ;
Nor wish to go, nor strive to stay.
But with a steady patience bear
Th' allotted weight of human care ;
And grateful to benignant Heaven
For all the frequent good that 's given,
Calmly behold th' approaching doom.
Nor dread the confines of the Tomb, —
But wait till death says, all is o'er.
Nor touch the Knocker at his Door.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH QI
Among the Perils that attend
Our life, and oft produce its end,
The Elements, each passing hour,
Display their all-alarming power.
— Fate waves his spear, th' infected air
Fills wide-spread regions with despair ;
And Pestilence, with deadly breath.
Makes them one dismal scene of death.
— He strikes his foot, the groaning ground
Strait trembles in the deep profound ;
Opes wide its vast and horrid womb,
And to whole cities yields a tomb.
— The Ocean to his will conforms,
And rolls beneath the angry storms ;
In vain the Steersman rules the Helm,
And waves the crouded Ship o'erwhelm.
— He lights his torch, the fatal fire
Spreads far and near with ruin dire ;
And Palaces and Temples lie
A scene of splendid Misery.
92 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
No Summons left t' awake our care,
Against the mischief to prepare ;
As the Hawk pounces on its prey,
These sudden evils ne'er betray
Their fell approach, but strike the blow
And leave the victims to their woe.
War, note of preparation gives.
And threatens e'er the foe arrives.
The Son of Mars, amid th' alarms
Of contest fierce and clashing arms.
Well knows he may be doomed to feel
The wounding force of hostile steel ;
Nay, half expects that he may fall
By bloody sword or flying ball :
But still his prowess may sustain
His life on the embattled plain,
And He may rest, when all is done.
Beneath the Laurels he has won.
When Plenty o'er the blighted fields
No more her ready sickle wields ;
When meadows lose their verdure green.
Nor fruitage on the bough is seen ;
When Dearth in meagre form appears,
We ope the hoards of former years ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 93
And in our straiten'd state maintain "^
Submission firm, till Ceres' reign,
In its full bounty, smiles again.
The Robber may our house despoil
By daring theft or crafty toil ;
But though he makes our goods his prey,
He cannot bear the House away :
Takes what he can — but, coarsely kind.
What he can't take, he leaves behind.
Though 'tis a mischief all would shun,
We may be robb'd, but not undone.
— But when our house, or great or small,
Whate'er it be, contains our all ;
A Conflagrations rapid power
May prove our ruin in an hour.
When we are robb'd we know the worst ;
But Fire's an evil most accurst :
Where it begins we may discover.
But who can tell when 'twill be over.
Though safe we think our treasure lies,
And well secur'd from hands and eyes :
The Flames may come, and, to our cost,
It may be melted down and lost.
Bolts, and Bars, and Barricadoes,
May disappoint midnight Bravadoes ;
94 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
But what can keep, we would enquire,
A House from being set on Fire :
Nay, should it be of Lath and Plaster,
Nought could arrest the sad disaster ;
And, if its roof be made of Thatch,
They must be quick to lift the Latch.
Such was the case, as tells the tale,
In Hern/ord's distant shady vale.
— Joe Jenkins there free from alarm,
Rented a small but fruitful Farm :
Where he work'd hard, but liv'd content
And never fail'd to pay his rent.
He had a wife and children three,
Maintain'd by cheerful industry ;
And by the names they both were known
Of honest Joe and smiling Joan.
But she was good as she was fair,
And skill'd in ev'ry household care ;
Nor were three finer bantlings seen, ,
'Mong those who play'd upon the Green.
One evening in the Month of May,
When all was blooming, sweet and gay.
As Joan wound, on the turning reel.
The labours of the spinning wheel,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 95
She listened to the Blackbird's song,
Who tun'd his notes the Groves among ;
And carroird with her voice so shrill
Of black-ey'd Sue and constant Will.
At length Joe's daily labour o'er,
They eat their supper at the door.
And spar'd a morsel to the poor ;
A part they never fail'd to give,
Of what Heav'n pleas'd they should
And, having bent in grateful prayer,
To him who makes the good his care,
Happy and in each other blest
The faithful pair retir'd to rest,
In hope to wake as free from sorrow.
When the Sun shone upon to-morrow ;
But e'er the Sun in splendour rose
They 'rose to view a scene of woes.
For, e'er the midnight hour was past,
They woke, and thought that hour their last.
Around appear'd the blazing flames ;
The Mother, with incessant screams.
And almost mad from her alarms,
Seizing the children in her arms.
Fled from her home and sat her down
Beside the Brook upon a stone.
96 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
While Joe, and many a neighbour's care,
Brought all the Flames were found to spare.
— The Villagers ran to and fro,
To save what could be sav'd for Joe ;
And women, screaming with affright,
Encreas'd the horrors of the night.
The slumb'ring sheep by fear made bold,
Tumultuous grew and forc'd the fold ;
And bellowing loud, the herds were seen
Scouring in fury o'er the Green.
Amongst the rest a Shape appear'd :
In either hand a torch he rear'd,
And seem'd, as he was stalking on,
Proud of the mischief he had done.
The Sexton said. Death was his name :
He knew him well, and that he came
From church-yard nigh ; nay, that the Bell
Had of itself rung out a Knell.
For though, as was his foul intent,
They did no Christian's end lament.
Yet it was seen Death had been there.
As Joe's six pigs and founder'd mare
Lay dead in stable and in sty.
The work of the Incendiary.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 97
The House was down, of flames the prey ;
And, as the smoking ruins lay,
Joe wrung his hands and wip'd his eye,
And thus talk'd o'er his destiny.
' 'Twas in that House that I was born,
* And Comfort smil'd but yester-morn ;
' But now I 've neither house nor home,
' Nor what to do in time to come,
' I cannot tell ; nor do I see
' The end of my calamity. —
' Alas, poor Joe, thy comfort 's o'er,
' And smiling Joan will smile no more.'
' Peace,' said good Farmer Freeman,
' peace ;
' And let these sad complainings cease,
* We all are born, as you should know,
' To meet misfortune here below;
' But then, my friend, it is as true,
' That we should learn to bear it too.
' Something is lost, but Heaven is kind ;
' For something too is left behind.
' Your hoarded treasure 's safe and sound,
' As a stray Donkey in a pound :
' The flames, at least, did not unlock it ;
* You have it close within your pocket.
98 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' Your Barns, you see, unhurt remain,
* With all their last year's stock of grain :
' Your Cow and Calf, and little Flock,
' Have only felt a sudden shock :
' Your Children too, have known no harm,
' They rest upon their Mother's arm :
' They feel no loss, they know no pain ;
' Joan sees they 're safe, and smiles again.
' In all the Hamlet's ample bound,
' Aye, and in all the Country round,
' There 's not a heart that will not show
' Its kind regard to honest Joe.
' Besides your Landlord Squire Bounty^
* Known for good deeds, throughout the
' Will build, I doubt not, at his cost,
' A better house than you have lost : j
' But till that House is snug and tight, |
' And honest Joe finds all things right ; \
' He and his Wife, and Children three,
* Shall come — aye come— and live with me.'
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 99
THE MISER'S END
From Charing Cross, to the Exchange
Take now your philosophic range,
And as you saunter through each street,
Translate the minds of all you meet ;
And you '11 perceive, in great and small,
Money 's the word that 's writ in all ; —
That their chief Happiness and Pain
Is what they lose or what they gain.
— Another morning take your walk
Where the young Loungers idly stalk :
Your scrutinizing eye prepare
To view the scene of every Square :
Saunt'ring down Bond-street, tow'rds the Park,
Spare not your shrewd and keen remark ;
From the gay bustle and confusion.
Your thoughts will come to this conclusion :
In all that 's seen, in all that 's heard,
Pleasure 's the fascinating word.
On this the unerring truth must rest,
What does most good must be the best.
100 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Which then is best suppose we try
(By rules of general policy,
As public Int'rest deals the measure,)
The Love of Gain, or Love of Pleasure
Though in the last we comprehend
Whate'er may to the Fancy bend ;
Whate'er may gild the State of Power,
Or decks fond Fashion's varying hour ;
Flatters the whimsies of the dull,
Or fills the Cup of Folly full.
We might the ways of Wisdom scan ;
But 'tis not in our present plan
To treat of any thing but Man ;
■ Of Man, in many of his ways,
As seen in these degenerate days.
I ask, by him what good is done,
Who from the morn to setting sun
Employs his never-ceasing care
To gain, to treasure, and to spare ;
And often borrows hours from sleep.
To give his hoards the added heap.
— Of all our failings, this same thirst
Of hoarding money is the worst :
For by that Passion is subdu'd
Each wish or thought of doing good.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 10 1
Nor does gold cheer the owner's breast
But by the sense that 'tis possest. —
Not so the Sons of Pleasure, they
Make all around them glad and gay ;
And by their sportive fancies strive
To keep the passing world alive.
They take another course 'tis true,
And not without its follies too ;
But though they prudent rules defy,
And briskly let their money fly,
While their run lasts, 'tis understood
That such folks do a deal of good.
If 'mong the changes that arise
And daily meet our wond'ring eyes,
It were the Fashion to be wise ;
That Reason should decide the measure
Of ev'ry want and ev'ry pleasure ;
Were such an alteration made.
Half London Town must leave off Trade.
Should all disdain the sweets of sense,
And look for Health to abstinence,
Content plain meats to cut and carve,
Cooks and Confectioners must starve.
I02 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And they to harder Trades must stoop,
Who Fortunes make by Turtle Soup.
— If they alone bought books who need 'em,
Or which is rarer still — who read 'em,
How many a Mill would stand and rot,
And wire-wove paper be forgot.
— If none form'd Libraries for show,
Nor wish'd to make each Book a Beau ;
If Learning never was profuse,
Nor e'er bought volumes but for use,
Morocco, with its gawdy airs,
Would be confin'd to Shoes and Chairs.
In short, when Spendthrift Folly dies,
And Fops leave off their Luxuries,
Few dashing retail men will run
To country cot in Chaise and one ;
And more than half our trading elves,
Would shut up shop, or hang themselves.
Gripus, a money-getting Sage,
Was now grown old with care and age :
His daily Joy was reck'ning o'er
The value of his hoarded Store.
Though this fond Task produc'd a sigh, "^
Whene'er he thought that he must die, r
And bid his darling gold good bye. J
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 10
He had a Son, a sharp young Spark,
Long bound as an Attorney's Clerk ;
For Gripus thought that such a shop
Requir'd no Cash to set him up.
He knew a share of Common Sense,
More cunning and some impudence.
Was, as the adage old has said,
Sufficient for th' Attorney's trade.
His Daughter too was blooming fair
As roses, and as lillies are ;
And Gripus never spar'd expence
To give her beauty consequence.
She could dementi's Lessons play,
And sing each tonish Roundelay :
Could give full force to Flat or Sharp
On the Piano or the Harp.
— Besides, the lively, smiling Wench,
Could step a Waltz, and jabber French ;
And oft her ready hand was seen
Painting a Table or a Screen :
For much he thought her charming face,
Heighten'd by each acquir'd grace,
Would, by the aid of Cupid's dart,
Seize on some wealthy Da?non^s heart.
Who, without asking for a Dower,
Would lead her to the Nuptial Bower.
104 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
One day Jack came — 'twas Monday eve,
His stated stipend to receive ;
Which Gripus always kindly paid,
Nor ever did the Boy upbraid ;
And thus his narrow heart consol'd
When from his hand he loos'd his gold.
' If to poor Jack I nothing gave,
* How would he ever learn to save.'
—He gently tapp'd — Death op'd the door ;
Jack star'd, as he ne'er star'd before.
The Spectre took him by the arm
And bid him quiet his alarm.
' Just look around, and what appears
' Will, I think, tranquillise your fears :
* Upon that Couch your Father lies :
* I have for ever closed his eyes ;
' While here, my Boy, you see around you,
' What may, perhaps, at first confound you ;
' But you '11 forgive me the intrusion,
' And soon get rid of your confusion.'
The Daughter then lamenting came.
And with her the old Household Dame;
But when the Treasure they espy.
The Ladies both forgot to cry.
Jack, who had learn'd a thing or two.
As Lawyers' Clerks are apt to do,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH laS
Transferr'd his Dad to t'other room.
And bade the Undertaker come :
Then double-lock'd the Iron Door,
To talk with Bell the matter o'er.
They read the Wili^ when all was right, \
Then supper eat with appetite,
And chatter'd on till twelve at night. J
The Fun'ral Rites all duly paid.
And Gripus 'neath the marble laid,
Again the Iron Door they op'd,
And, having in each corner grop'd,
Bell took her Forty thousand pound,
And soon a wealthy Husband found :
Jack by the Will took all the rest,
And soon became a Buck profest.
Well-pleas'd he, with contemptuous grin,
Took his last leave of Thavies Inn ;
And 'twas not long e'er he was known,
A first-rate Swell upon the Town.
But Jack was shrewd, with cunning fraught,
The Attorney's Desk the Youth had taught
A certain wary kind of Knowledge
That 's caught up in no other College :
For though he sought the road to ruin,
It took ten years to his undoing :
I06 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And when 'twas thought that all was gone,
Jack was not such a Simpleton
But he contriv'd to stitch together
A rough, warm coat for rainy weather ;
And seem'd contented to retire,
A knowing, petty Country 'Squire.
No one will Son or Father praise.
They both were bad in diff'rent ways :
The one was known his life to pass
An useless treasure to amass :
The other spent it like an Ass.
For neither Jack nor Gripus knew
The happy medium to pursue.
The art between the extremes to move
Of idle waste or mad Self-love :
A knowledge which, when once possess'd,
Preserves men good, and makes them blest.
But still I hold this Maxim true, —
Jack was the better of the Tivo.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 107
Ask what is Love, — or where 'tis found
In our Life's busy, ceaseless round,
Enquire of all you chance to meet,
In every house, in ev'ry Street ;
And then weigh well the strange replies
From old and young, from fools and wise,
From rich and poor, from great and small.
When much I fear, among them all
You '11 scarce find two who will agree
In its essential Quality.
Ask Lady Bell who 'mong the Ton
So long has made her Graces known.
And she will the soft Passion fix
In settlement and Coach-and-six :
A splendid Seat, for country air,
And a Town House in Grosvenor Square;
With Balls and Fetes, and all that Taste
Employs to bring great Wealth to waste.
1 68' ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
— Matilda, who has fill'd her mind
With all the Learning she could find
In the long, never-ending page
Of writings which o'erflow the age,
Novels yclep'd, will, while she glories
In her vast range of tender stories,
Tell you that Love is made of sighs.
And feeds on sensibilities ;
That sighs alone the Passion prove,
And when they cease, you cease to love.
— The Citizen, who has the itch
-s. Of lab'ring hard and growing rich :
Who rises early, sits up late.
To form in time a large estate,
Will talk of Love as of a thing
That may a store of profit bring :
Cupid in vain may shoot his dart,
It ne'er will pierce the good man's heart ;
In vain would he exhaust his quiver
To perforate the good man's liver :
Those weapons ne'er will make him feel
Whose points are only made of steel
The God of Love will be cajol'd
Unless his darts are tip't with gold.
Nay, when Sir Mat resolv'd to wed,
And take a fair one to his bed,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH IO9
His thoughts of matrimonial bliss
Were in the Portion, not the Miss.
— Sir Amorous will say, 'tis clear
That this same Love is every where :
In all the corners of the Town
He does the Magic Influence own :
At Balls, at Operas or Plays,
He feels the God's enliv'ning rays ;
While the same Power, he finds, pervades
The rural Scenes and sylvan Shades :
It is a thing He always lights on
At Hastings, Tunbridge Wells, and Brighton.
Nor has he faiPd to feel its joy
In a Stage Coach, or Margate Hoy ;
In short, where'er he 's doom'd to move,
He never fails to meet with Love.
But then 'tis transient as the wind.
No sooner found than left behind :
Though all its pleasure or its pain
The Knight ne'er ventures to explain.
— Enquire of certain married Dames
What they can say of Cupid's flames ;
They '11 tell you Cupid 's ev'ry where,
Unless a horrid Husband 's there ;
For He may be, as they might prove,
A perfect Antidote to Love.
no ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
The Dowager will shake her head,
As she laments an Husband dead,
And tell you all her Love to come
Is buried in the dead Man's tomb.
There Cupid weeps, and Hymen too,
Until another comes to woo.
— Ask the Coquette where Love must please ;
She '11 say — in ev'ry Man she sees.
'Tis true the Lady will prefer
Fops of high rank and character :
The Baron bold, in splendor drest
With the Star glitt'ring on his breast.
Or, the first boast of Chivalry,
With Garter twining round his knee.
Or if her smiles do not inspire
The prouder Nobles to admire,
She will exchange in Fashion's Dance
With common Lords the am'rous glance.
But should they her allurements slight.
She '11 grace a Ball-room with a Knight ;
Or to a 'Squire throw out a Lure,
And, for the hour, his vows endure :
Nay, her general scheme to vary.
She '11 flirt with her Apothecary.
When to far distant scenes retir'd.
She still resolves to be admir'd.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH III
And strives the Curate to subdue,
By well-form'd oglings from a Pew.
Hence with this fair one, it is prov'd,
To be admir'd is to be lov'd.
Ask Virtue what is Love — she '11 say
It is a mild, celestial ray
That warms and purifies the heart
From ev'ry foul and grosser part,
And leaves it, as it first was given,
The most delightful boon of Heaven ;
So form'd to soothe the scene of woe
That Man must suffer here below.
— Require of Happiness to tell
Where 'tis she never fails to dwell.
She '11 answer, 'neath the Domes of State,
The dwellings of the rich and great ;
Or in the humble low-roof'd cot,
Where Poverty 's the Owner's Lot :
If, rich or poor, they do but prove
The solid Joys of virtuous Love.
— Ask Vice her thoughts of such a flame,
Of which she scarce can tell the name :
Perhaps an answer she '11 refuse,
And strait refer you to the Stews.
112 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Miss Betsy, in her eighteenth year,
The Captain whisp'ring in her ear,
Began to think Love might be seen
In Chaise-and-four to Gretna Green.
She had been left an orphan Fair,
To Doctor Julap's guardian Care :
With Lands, and Money in the Stocks,
And Notes and Bonds in Iron Box ;
That, altogether would be found
At least worth Thirty thousand pound.
No Guardian watch'd with more regard
Than Julap did, his wealthy Ward ;
For 'twas the object of his Life
To turn his Ward into his Wife.
Nay, he employ'd his utmost skill
In working on Miss Betsy's will,
To take his Matrimonial Pill.
But a fine Youth, in Country Quarters,
" Defied his Pestle and his Mortars :
For he contriv'd to tell his Tale
Not by the Hawthorn in the Dale ;
Nor as fond Pyramus of old
His Love to gentle Thisbe told,
And did the Lady's heart enthrall
Through chinks, and crannies in the
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH II3
The Captain did his passion pledge
In Julap's garden through the hedge :
Where wild flow'rs bloom'd, and Thrushes
She heard the Hero's flatt'ring tongue ;
And there with mutual delight,
They plann'd the unsuspected flight.
One night the Doctor went to bed
With wealth and Betsy in his head :
Physic and Patients all forgot.
How to tie fast the Nuptial Knot,
Employ'd his anxious thoughts till sleep
Did o'er his wearied senses creep :
But while deceitful Morpheus spread
The happy vision round his head.
That gave to his enamour'd view.
The Fair, and all her fortune too,
Mary into his chamber popp'd.
With, * Sir, Miss Betsy is elop'd.'
He instant rose and, in a rage,
Like the Third Richard on the Stage,
Call'd for his Horse of well-known speed.
To check the execrable deed ;
And, rising quickly from his bolster,
Order'd his Pistols to the Holster.
VOL, II. — H
1 14 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
The Doctor soon had got the scent
Of the High Road the Lovers went,
And posted off, a bold Knight Errant,
Well arm'd with magisterial warrant :
He follow'd fast, nor was it long |
Before, by dint of Spur and Thong,
The flying Equipage he view'd
That held the Fair whom he pursu'd.
As He drew nigh each desperate Lover
Did signs of stout defence discover.
The Captain loud exclaim'd, ' Retire;
' Or, by the Prize I bear, I '11 fire :
' I shall prescribe a Leaden Pill
' Which, like your own, is sure to kill/
An equal threat from Betsy came :
' I swear,' she cried, ' by Love's fierce flame^
* I '11 be my gallant Soldier's Wife : —
' Stop then, or tremble for your Life.'
Down the steep Hill away they flew,
Away the Doctor hurried too.
Keeping aloof till they should come
Where Pow'r might send Miss Betsy home.
But e'er they reach'd the neighbouring Town
Vooxjulap from his Horse was thrown,
And pitch'd Head-foremost on a Stone.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH II5
Death who, in honour of his Friend,
Did as his faithful Groom attend,
Now took him up a Ufeless Corse,
And threw it 'cross th' unconscious horse ;
Then led him quietly away, -
To grace the triumphs of the day.
The Post-boys cried, as they drove on,
We're sure the Doctor's work is done :
They loudly swore they saw him fall.
And dash his brains out 'gainst the wall.
' — Ne'er mind, drive on,' Miss Betsy said ;
' Lives will be sav'd if he is dead ;
' And no more plagues will intervene,
' To stop our Course to Gretna Green.'
Il6 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
What is Beauty — what is Grace,
Or in the Form or in the Face,
Many have found it hard to tell
Who reason'd right and argu'd well ;
For various knotty points appear.
Which all discuss and few can clear.
Hogarth has said that none could miss
On reading his Analysis,^
The knowledge of that certain Line,
Which does unerringly define
What Beauty is, and taught to trace
The genuine principles of Grace.
The Form, for Hogarth was no Fool,
He borrow'd from the Grecian School.
Antinous in mild beauty stands,
The work of some great Sculptor's hands,
Whose skill adorn'd the Fanes of Greece ;
It might be a Praxitiles.
1 The Analysis of Beauty*
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH II7
There Nature unconstrain'd by art,
Displays to view each perfect part :
Each Limb had been unbound and free
E'en from the hours of Infancy :
No swaddhng cloaths the Form oppress'd
While hanging at the Mother's breast ;
And Freedom in the Babe began
To shape with Grace the future man.
Thus in that boasted Age we see,
Athens so proud of Liberty,
Beheld her offspring unconfin'd.
As free in Body as in Mind.
— Thus did she train to ev'ry Grace
Her manly Youth and martial Race ;
While Phidias^ in his walks might meet
Forms fit for Gods in ev'ry Street ;
And many a Phoebus might be seen
Or in the Cirque or on the Green,
While rival Venuses display'd
Their Beauties, dancing in the shade.
Our Native Artist whose acclaim
Will last while Art can give a Name,
To strike by contrast, boldly placed
Near the Greek Form, a figure graced
Il8 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
With all the cumbrous folds of Plaster,
In shape of modern Dancing Master ;
Nor could the purest power of Art,
With a more height'ning force impart
The difference 'tween the Grace that's caught,
By fine examples daily taught.
Which ev'ry hour attracts the eye
In Motion and in Symmetry ;
And that which Catgut and the Wire
With Beau-kifs Bravos can inspire ;
Those smirking Gestures which appear
To 've been transmitted through the Ear,
And when the Fidlers cease to play,
Vanish at once, and pass away.
Thus in the modern School we trace
To Fashion what is Air and Grace.
All that the changeful Phantom says.
Or right or wrong in these fine days.
Each Sex implicitly obeys :
Hence 'tis, we see, gay folks appear
As Fancy changes, through the year.
If some fair Duchess, fat and frowsy.
Striving to lose the looking blowzy,
Lessens the Circle of her waist
By Corsets stiff and tightly lac'd ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH II9
Does all her flowing ringlets check,
That threat to amplify her neck ;
Throws to the air her lofty bonnet,
And places plumes of Feathers on it ;
Thus losing, in Dame Nature's spite,
Her real breadth, by artful height,
She does no more than is her duty ;
For 'tis the Policy of Beauty,
To hide defects, and to hold forth
The charms which are of native growth.
— But then come those whose inclination
Is to be ever in the Fashion ;
And though they be but skin and bone,
They must conform to what's the Ton.
Who, tall enough to make folks stare
As Female Giants at a Fair,
Still must compress their thin waists smaller,
And make their gawky figures taller.
Nature and Reason both oppose it.
But then the great fat Duchess does it.
If Lord or Knight, or dashing 'Squire,
Does with a noble zeal aspire
Since Chivalry is at a stand,
To take the Lead with Four-in-hand ;
I20 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
To dress, to swear, to spit, to rail
Like high-bred Drivers of the Mail ;
Your Office Clerk and dashing Cit
Will show their Taste, and prove their wit.
By Banging up and Banging down
In Gigs and Tillb'ries round the Town ;
Rap out an Oath, or stylish word,
Not like a Coachman — but a Lord,
'Tis not alone in dress or driving
That Fashion 's cutting or contriving
Manners that form the Grace of Life
Or in the Daughter or the Wife, *
From that o'erflowing source receive.
The Charms its fangled notions give.
—Fair C/elia had some girlish Faults ;
But then — How Cselia stepp'd a Waltz !
And in that Season, it is known
Waltzing was everywhere the Ton.
Miss Cselia, though a sickly Maid,
No friendly counsels could persuade
To stay at Home, when Fashion's call
Summon'd the Damsel to a Ball :
From Party, Opera or Play,
She might be coax'd to keep away ;
ENGLISH dance; OF DEATH 121
But she possess' d the high renown,
Of the most pleasing Dancer known ;
Besides she hop'd, her graceful Charms,
Would Waltz her to a Husband's Arms.
Nor the grave Doctor's daily threat,
Nor a fond Mother's keen regret.
Nor Hectic Cough, that oft oppress'd
With strong convulse, her heaving breast,
Could when th' enchanting fiddle mov'd,
Keep her from that display she lov'd,
And which each eye that saw appro v'd.
— One vernal morn, with great delight
She practised for th' approaching night.
Some new-invented Step she paces, —
The Teacher play'd off his Grimaces ;
And while he boasted to impart
Some added Beauties of his Art,
She sinks, she faints, she pants for breath :
Alas ! it was the Waltz of Death.
122 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
What with such Power the heart can move
As a young, doting Mother's Love !
While gazing on her infant Care,
The Passion of her Soul is there.
When the Babe hangs upon the Breast
With what a rapture He 's carest !
If, in that inexpressive Hour, 1
The Master of Imperial Power
Should through each tempting region range, J
And offer all for the Exchange,
Her eyes she 'd rivet on his charms,
And clasp him closer in her arms.
— The Mother's fondness for her child
Is Nature pure and undefil'd ;
Nor mix'd as other passions are i
With Fancy's glow or sordid care ;
Has Joys to Mothers only known,
And is, in truth, itself alone.
When the sweet Boy, with growing charm.
Disdains the tender Nurse's arm,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 23
And as strength guides his better speed,
New Joys and other cares succeed.
Learning now points the ghmrn'ring way,
And lights him with its feeble ray :
At length its warmer beams express
The bloom of future fruitfulness.
Then Reason will begin to stir
The embryo seeds of Character,
And the fond parent looks to scan
The virtues of the future man.
— Next, boyish feats and active strife
Add new varieties to life.
From strict restraint and thraldom free,
He dares to climb the branchy tree ;
O'er many an headland course to run,
Nor fears the heats of sultry sun :
Or, on the frozen surface bold,
Breasts the keen Winter's piercing cold :
O'er thorny hedge is seen to bound
And light on the uncertain ground ;
Or yet, untaught by due controul.
Drives the rough poney to the Goal ;
Seeks the dark mazes of the wood,
Or plunges in the running flood.
Thus playing with a Mother's fear.
Thus calling forth the secret tear,
124 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And often smiling at the pain
That fond Affection cannot feign.
The fair Matilda married young,
And, while the song of Joy she sung,
While 'twas her envied Lot to prove
The sweetest bliss of wedded Love,
• Relentless Death prepared his dart,
And pierc'd the faithful Husband's heart :
But though a widow thus bereft.
Indulgent Heaven one comfort left,
To help her the sad Loss to bear,
And save her sorrow from despair.
A Babe in Beauty's infant grace.
The Father smiling in his face,
Would check the tear that strove to flow
And be the solace of her woe,
Would her pale, saddened face beguile
And 'midst its gloom awake a smile.
When fond remembrance fain would dwell
On that dear form she lov'd so well :
She in th' unconscious Babe could view
The Offspring and the Father too.
The widow and the mother prov'd
With what a constancy she lov'd ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 25
Resolv'd to dedicate her days,
Not to the idle, empty praise
Of the gay world's incessant prate,
Or pleasures that on Fortune wait,
But her maternal cares to ply.
Departed Love's sad Legacy ;
She hop'd to rear a solid fame
On Duties which her child would claim.
Beauty was her's, and ev'ry charm
That doth the tender bosom warm :
And though her Lilies grew more pale,
And though her roseate blushes fail,
Yet Youth and Time were waiting there.
Grief's early inroads to repair.
The winning Look, the graceful mien
Were still with Admiration seen ;
Still did th' harmonious voice impart
The blended sense of mind and heart :
Of riches she was left a store.
Her purse was full, nay, running o'er, —
Nor did her bounteous hand refrain,
Nor could a chilling thought restrain
The gift that goodness loves to grant.
To all who weep and all who want.
126 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Thus none who knew her but approv'd,
And some the widow'd charmer lov'd.
— But when she heard of Hymen's name,
When Cupid wav'd the proffer'd flame ;
When Lovers hop'd she would be won,
She pointed to her DarHng Son :
Your suits are all in vain, she said ;
No Eloquence will e'er dissuade
My purpose now so firmly made.
The little, playful Boy, you see,
Is Cupid, Hymen, all to me.
Their Altar I shall ne'er attend,
Till Heaven, my wishes to befriend,
Gives me to view my Edward there.
My only hope, my darling care ;
There, bound by Hymen's chaste decree.
To one who thinks and loves like me.
— 'Twas thus she liv'd, while Edward
To all his Mother's wishes true.
But still the dangers that belay
The passage of Life's early day ;
Would often cause her eyes to weep.
And discompose the hours of sleep ;
While many a fearful omen crept
Across her Fancy when she slept.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 2/
Edward, a noble Boy, had gain'd
Full fourteen years, which, when obtained,
The parent weighs, with equal scales.
His future fate, — and Hope prevails.
— 'Twas when, in Summer's sultry hour.
Fierce Sirius gleam'd with ardent power,
That the Youth sought the cooling
Beside the verdure of a wood ;
But, while he cleav'd the liquid way,
His limbs no longer would obey.
He shriek'd, the woodman sought the wave
And plung'd, the sinking form to save,
From what appear'd a wat'ry grave.
His voice alarm'd the peasants near,
And, hast'ning on the wings of fear
They reach the stately Hall, nor wait
To ask admission at the gate ;
While cries throughout the walls resound,
' Our young, our darling- Master 's drown'd.
The Servants fly they scarce know where ;
The tidings reach Matilda's ear :
She starts, — then hurries to the wood-
Aghast, upon the bank she stood,
While from the pool, with looks forlorn.
Her senseless Edward's form is borne.
128 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
She sinks, weigh'd down by her alarms ;
And Death receives her in his arms.
— The unconscious Youth now opes his
The Son survives, — the Mother dies. —
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 29
Is there a thing in Art or Nature,
A Bird or Beast, or Human Creature,
Which in Death's business is not made
An Engine to promote his trade ?
Look where you will, go where you can,
You see the final foe of Man.
Lions and Tygers, Dogs and Cats,
The pois'nous Asp, the stinging Gnats,
The Cart that rojls, the Coach that flies.
Tandems and Gigs and Tilburies ;
The Ship that dares the dang'rous deep,
The Boat that doth the river sweep;
The Eastern wind, the sudden Squall,
The gliding Skait, the whirling Ball,
All in their various ways supply
The means by which frail man may die.
The potent drug, the boasted pill,
The very hope of health, may kill :
E'en Justice takes a fatal part,
And with a Lawsuit breaks a heart.
VOL. II. — I
130 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
In the arm'd field and War's affray,
Death takes his thousands in a day ;
While, in the alley and the street,
The Gin-Shop deals the deadly treat,
And Fate prepares the winding-sheet.
How many a scaffold's giddy height
Hurls to the shades of endless
While to the Lazaretto's shed
Are borne the dying and the dead.
The dagger's blade, the leaden bullet,
And hempen string around the gullet,
"^ The Pugilist's well-levell'd joint,
Or the bare bodkin's humble point,
These, and a thousand more, the eye
Can with its daily glance descry
In the dread Spectre's Armoury :
He can to all his purpose fit
Or with a spear or with a spit.
But it is not the weapon's force.
The sudden stroke or furious course
Death always chuses to assume.
To usher mortals to the tomb :
He '11 lay aside the poison'd cup.
Which, at one certain, hasty sup.
He often drinks Life's current up;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 131
And will our nature undermme
E'en on the food on which we dine ;
Nay, with slow, pois'nous power, controul
The operations of the bowl ;
Season the Glutton's daily feast,
And fat him as we fat a beast ;
Smile grimly, o'er each rich repast,
Till the gorg'd Corm'rant bursts at last.
One day, Death, tempted by the scent,
Into Lord Orflan\ Kitchen went ;
Well-pleas'd he views the various show
Of Fricasee and Fricandeau^
Of ev'ry Flesh, and Fowl and Fish,
Prepar'd to grace each silver dish,
Of roast and boil'd, of Grill and Stew,
Turtle and Ven'son and Ragout :
And, as he with attention pauses
At saucepans strong with fine-drawn Sauces,
His mischief was quite charm'd to see
The poison of the Chemistry :
But while he made his purpose known
To add a little of his own,
The Cook, who was a man of might,
And o'er his Kitchen claim'd a right,
Determin'd to attack the Sprite.
132 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
His right-hand did a Carver wield,
A pot-lid serv'd him for a shield :
Begone — he cried, or, with this point,
I '11 dislocate you joint from joint.
And I declare it, by my troth,
I '11 take your bones and make them broth.
— Death seiz'd the Roaster in his ire,
As it was turning at the Fire ;
And fiercely, without more ado.
He ran the Cook quite through and through.
There, He exclaim'd, you now are fitted; —
With your own Turkey you are spitted ;
And of that Paunch I shall prepare
An Entremet for this day's fare.
The Clock struck Seven, — it was the hour
When my Lord us'd to feel the power
That bred a craving near his heart
For Courses two, and a Dessert.
He rung his Bell, — ' Pray what's the riot?
' Serve up the Dinner, and be quiet.'
' Sad news to tell,' the Butler said,
* But poor Morel the Cook is dead :
• Struck, somehow, with I know not what,
' He sunk at once, and went to pot ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 33
* He utter'd one tremendous groan,
' x'Vnd fell as dead as any stone.
' The down-fall was with horrid clatter
' Of pot and dish, of pan and platter :
' The Kitchen-maids were all aghast,
' And all forgot my Lord's repast ;
' Nay, whether stew'd, or roast or boird,
' I fear that ev'ry dish is spoil'd ;
' For such an Uproar ne'er was seen,
' In Kitchen where I 've ever been.'
' Get what you can,' my Lord replies,
' For I must live, whoever dies :
' Hang the fat gormandising sinner
' For dying, — till he had dress'd the dinner.'
134 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Ambition is a noble flame,
But then how various is its aim :
For look through Life, or great or small, "j
From Council Board to humble Stall, I
It is a Passion felt by all. J
When the brave Soldier seeks the wreath
Through hostile realms 'mid blood and
When Statesmen's plotting arts combine
To raise to Power the gilded shrine j
When Eloquence pursues the fame
That waits upon a Tully's name ;
When Poetry invents the verse
For future ages to rehearse,
When deep Philosophers display
To Science many an added ray ;
Whatever honour they attain,
It is Ambition leads the train.
In other scenes the Passion glows.
Its tide in other Channels flows,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 35
As it is seen to be allied
To all the forms assum'd by Pride.
— In Fashion's course to take the Ton,
When to leave off and when put on ;
What plumes should nod upon the brow,
What flounces deck the dress below;
Whether the foot should just appear,
Or the Robe leave the Ancle bare;
How far the bosom should display
Its Beauty to the glaring day ;
Whether with upright gait to stalk
Or with a bending grace to walk ;
In short to give the varying rules
To the Ton's all-obedient fools,
Is an Ambition to be found
In the world's gay and giddy round.
Thus Lady Gew-gaw feels a pride
To be the youthful Female's guide.
As Bond Streefs range she 's seen to grace,
By Blood-Bays drawn in stately pace,
I give, she cries, the ev'ry air
To all the Misses tramping there.
Among the Forms this passion takes,
Of high-born men it Coachmen makes j
136 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And bids the Heir of wealth assume
The low-wrought semblance of a Groom.
Thus, while we mark the high-flown dream,
There is a Bathos in the scheme.
While we the power of rising view,
We see the art of sinking too.
Hence while one Noble shall appear
To be the nation's Charioteer,
Others of equal rank and birth,
Will mix with common sons of earth ;
Nor think they of the wheels of State,
But how to drive through Hyde Park gate,
And, on a Sunday in the Spring,
To ^\3iy Jehu ^ and be the Thing.
The ChiQi oi Macedon unfurl'd
His Standard o'er a conquer'd world ;
But, having not enough to do,
He ask'd another world or two ;
For, form'd of such ambitious stuff.
He thought one world was not enough.
But in the midst of all his power,
He sought to pass a Leisure hour
With a Philosopher of Greece,
Well known as one Diogenes ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 37
And here he found a surly Elf
Full as ambitious as himself:
Within the mind his haughty pride
Was full as long, as broad and wide ;
But the same Spirit, strange to tell,
Confin'd him to a narrow Cell,
Nor suffer 'd him to push a quarrel
Beyond the limits of his barrel.
Ne'er did the Conq'ror whose name
Is graven on the rock of Fame,
E'er feel more pride at what he 'd done
E'en though the world were looking on,
Than the rude Cynic at the rub
He gave the Y'lcior from the Tub.
But if the Muse should turn her Car
And eastward drive of Temple Bar,
Then onward, in due order range
Or to the Bank or the Exchange,
Ambition will be found possesst
Of various forms as in the West.
But Money there gives all the fire : —
'Tis Wealth to which they all aspire.
If Honour shares the anxious mind,
'Tis Honour that 's v/ith Wealth combin'd ;
138 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
The splendor of a titled Mayor,
Or power of a Director's Chair.
But some will, now or then, launch forth
Before their time, to prove their worth ;
Who have the Ambition to appear
More wealthy than in fact they are ;
Or, in their pride, to shew their taste,
Will idly run themselves to waste.
Jack Muslin understood his trade,
And such a Fortune might have made,
As was well suited to his station,
With a good Cheap side Reputation,
Had he resolv'd to toil and strive
On to the Age of Forty-five :
But Jack had some how got the itch
To be reputed growing rich ;
And thought too, while yet in his vigour,
It was the time to make a figure :
Thus his ambition run the rig
To have a well-bred Horse and Gig ;
While Madam thought it might prepare
The way to have a Chaise and Pair.
—Thus 'twas not many weeks before,
From time to time, at Warehouse door.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 39
The Horse and Gig the Neighbours spy,
And wonder at the Luxury.
— No longer now it was Jack's boast
What this thing fetch'd — what that thing
How fair his trade, how few his crosses,
And how his Gains surpass'd his Losses.
— He now declares, and stakes his word,
He gave the go-bv to a Lord ;
And that He 'd driven to a stand
Sir Harry, with his Four-in-hand.
So fine his Horse, and such his power.
He could trot fourteen miles an hour ;
And then he 'd wager, play or pay.
To go to Brighton in a day.
— Ma'am Muslin, also, ceas'd to tell
To whom their various goods they sell.
Or boast their windows' rich supply
To tempt the wish, to catch the eye
Of the vast throng of passers by.
She simper'd now, and would declare
How sweet to breathe the Windsor air ;
That the Princesses she had seen,
And humbly curtsied to the Queen :
While Epsom, Egham, Ascott Races
Were such delightful, charming Places.
140 EN-GLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Thus Folly grew, and soon the Shop,
With all its gains, began to drop :
For Trade, as known to common sense,
Can never thrive by negligence.
When Jack appear'd, with shaking head,
The neighbours to each other said, —
* Aye, there He goes, — but 'tis so fast,
' His Horse and Gig will never last.'
And it pleas'd Fate, as we shall see,
Soon to fulfil the Prophecy ;
Though not exactly in the way
That Prudence threat'ned every day.
One morning Jack, in all his pride.
Went out with Madam by his side,
When, as they drove down Shooter s Hill^
Death grac'd a mile-stone, squat and still.
Th' affrighted Horse now plung'd, now flew :
Th' unequal reins then snapp'd in two :
Jack was thrown back and tumbled o'er,
Groan'd for a while, then breath'd no more :
While Madam, jumping from the side,
Fell at the Spectre's feet, and died. —
As poor Jack's credit 'gan to fail him,
And without Children to bewail him,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 14I
His Friends did not that Fate regret,
Which sav'd his name from the Gazette ;
For, had he liv'd, he would have found the Art
To turn his Gig into a Bankrupt Cart.
142 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' No, No,' — Sir Gabriel Giltspur said,
' No, not a Doit till I am dead.
' Not one, my Girl, till I am sent
' To the old, solemn Tenement,
' Where, in due state and order, lie
* The ancient Giltspur Ancestry.
' And if Lord Edward loves you true,
' As all young men will say they do,
' He will with tender patience wait
' Till I am borne through yonder gate.
' Old as I am, 'twill not be long
* Before Time chaunts my fun'ral song ;
' And I have told you, o'er and o'er,
' No Fortune, 'till I am no more.
' You, LisSY, are my only Heir,
* And little know the anxious care
' With which I 've shap'd your future life
' Whether a Maiden or a Wife ;
' How strait I 've drawn the legal line
* To keep my wealth unalter'd thine ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH I43
' To guard thy Love from lavish doing,
' Nor let a Spendthrift prove thy ruin.
' No Lord shall thy fair Dowry claim
' Unless he takes the Giltspur name :
' A name, for many a cent'ry past
* To honour known ; — and it shall last
' If parchment deed, with seals set to it,
* Or Will and Testament can do it.
* Which you howe'er can never read,
' Till I am number'd with the dead.'
Thus to his only Child he spoke,
While she his favour did invoke ;
And strove his kind assent to move,
That Hymen's wreath might crown her Love.
It seems Lord Edward had impress'd
His image on Melissa's breast ;
And he had sworn with am'rous art
That she poss€Ss'd his faithful heart :
But still he thought it might not thrive,
If, while Sir Giltspur were alive,
They were to urge the Nuptial Deed
To flight on t'other side the Tweed.
He reckon'd that his Soldier's pay
Did not exceed three pounds a day,
144 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And what the Duke, his grumbling Dad,
Might, to support the Nuptials, add,
Would never, as he thought it o'er,
Turn Chaise and pair to Chaise and four : —
He thought it, therefore, best to stay.
And crown his Love some future day,
When Fate might wield his spear and prove
The Harbinger of wedded Love.
— Thus they would oft at Evening meet.
And mix discourse with Kisses sweet ;
Along the riv'let's bank would roam.
Talking of Happiness to come ;
While sometimes, passing folk would see 'em
Looking athwart the Mausoleum :
But Cupid, though an errant thief,
No pick-lock had to give relief.
His efforts vain he would deplore
And curse th' impenetrable door,
Whose grating hinges would obey
No Hand but his who kept the Key : —
What could they then but patient wait,
Till that hand op'd the pond'rous gate.
Not far from where the Building stood,
In the dark op'ning of a Wood,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH I45
With all his well-known symbols grac'd,
The Statue of Old Time Avas plac'd,
Here they would pass their tender hours
And deck the sculptur'd form with flowers ;
While chaplets of perennial green
Upon his naked pate were seen.
Such were the Off 'rings they bestow'd
In honour of the fleeting God;
Although they felt the full disaster
That he fled not a little faster.
But 'twas in vain to sigh and sue,
For what could the old Pagan do ?
He was o'er-rul'd, nor could his pace
Be quicken'd in the daily race ;
His plumage could not quicker move
By any artifice of Love :
But it appears, search the world over,
There 's nought so thoughtless as a Lover.
Thus Time went on his usual way,
From Hour to Hour, from Day to Day ;
But prov'd, at length, the Lover's friend,
And brought Sir Giltspur to his end.
The Knight was to his room confin'd,
Hobbling and weak, and almost blind ;
146 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
So that Melissa, when she chose
Of short-hv'd Joy, to pluck the rose,
Would mount her Carriage and repair
Among the Groves to take the air,
In hope to meet Lord Edward there.
One morning, as the Lovers stray 'd,
And talk'd of Joys so long delay'd,
Sir Giltspur moving on was seen.
In dismal pace across the Green,
And by his side, to help him on,
Appear'd a busy Skeleton.
Slow was their march, and it was bent
To the Sepulchral Monument.
Death, for a moment, stepp'd before.
And quickly op'd the creaking Door.
The threshold pass'd, the Door was clos'd,
And there Sir Giltspur soon repos'd ; —
There his remains in silence lie,
With all his boasted Ancestry.
* I,et us,' Melissa gravely said,
' Turn from these Dirges of the Dead !
' — The Carriage waits, ^.Lord Edward
' And we will go, and weep at Home.'
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH I47
Belinda, what few Women prove,
Was a Philosopher in Love :
She saw that, in the world, the Passion
Was something like a dress in fashion ;
Not made for any lasting uses,
But to put on as Fancy chuses ;
And to put off with equal ease
As the prevailing whimsies please.
Fondness and Rapture, and all that
Were words employ'd in common chat.
Which did no solid meaning bear,
But told to ev'ry list'ning fair.
Who chose to hear what Foplings say
And court the Flattery of the day ;
Which, ere 'tis spoke, has ta'en its flight,
And never lasts from noon till night :
While for that self-same thing call'd Love,
What do its best professors prove.
But that its Hopes, and Fears, and Sighs,
Are Phantoms or Non-Entities ;
148 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And, in the wise man's volume found
As nought but an unmeaning sound.
Thus would the fair Belinda reason,
As she denied that it was treason
For Females to employ their mind
On subjects of an higher kind.
Authors who on those subjects wrote,
She oft had studied and could quote.
She knew grave men had oft disputed,
Though none appear'd to be confuted ;
As none had e'er presum'd to prove
Where is the real seat of Love.
Some did the fine opinion start,
That it took place within the Heart',
Others, the mark for Cupid's Quiver,
Would boldly argue was the Liver ;
But still the best could only doubt.
As none of them had found it out.
Thus, as she thought, she us'd to flout it.
And look'd to find a Mate without it ;
To go with Hymen to the Altar,
But threatning Cupid with a Halter,
If the insulting Urchin dare
To make his sly appearance there.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 49
But Still she never fail'd to own
It was not good to live alone :
That Nature had by certain Laws,
Of which she well could trace the cause.
To carry on the scheme of Life,
Ordain'd the tie of Man and Wife ]
And Wife she was resolv'd to be,
When, grac'd with stern fidelity
And manly virtue she could find
A Suitor fashion'd to her mind ;
Whose Thoughts obey'd the moral sense,
Whose heart possess'd Benevolence ;
But whose Philosophy would prove
Superior to the Syren Love.
He might a tender Father be,
And deal forth deeds of Charity ;
In the strait Line of Duty move.
But, never, never be in Love.
Belinda was both rich and fair,
Of hoarded Wealth the only Heir ;
And with such precious virtues fraught,
No wonder she was fondly sought
By many, anxious to receive
The Happiness which she could give.
I50 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
A Colonel for her Favour sued,
A Lawyer too the Maiden woo'd ;
A Parson hop'd the Prize to get,
While a proud, well-bred Baronet,
Who many a year had pass'd his heigh-day,
Wish'd much to make the Miss a Lady ;
A Quaker likewise came to try
His Plainness and Simplicity :
He knew she was a Girl of Whim,
And thought that she might fancy him.
A Doctor also join'd the Tribe,
And he had ventur'd to prescribe
Something that might his Patient suit,
A Licence, and a Ring to boot.
Belinda, all in silence heard,
As each his diff'rent claim preferr'd :
No look or word or smile had given
The Hope of matrimonial Heav'n :
The Lady's Philosophic sense
Had not felt any Preference ;
And, on revolving many a scheme
By which to wake and fix esteem.
She thought it might be better done
By personal Comparison.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 151
Hence she resolved to bring them all
Before her, in her spacious Hall,
And, to th' assembled groupe, relate
Her notions of the Nuptial State ;
When each, as it might best beseem,
Would gravely treat the solemn Theme ;
And, in the others' presence tell
The points in which each might excel.
— The plan once form'd, her resolution
Brought it to instant execution.
The Parties met, th' important Fair
With grave demeanour, took the Chair,
And to the wond'ring Folk address'd
The secret Counsels of her Breast.
' The reason why I call'd you here,
' My worthy Friends, will soon appear,
' Nor shall I words and time employ
' Your friendly patience to annoy.
' The suit which each of you preferr'd
' I have, with due attention, heard,
' As each, in secret and alone,
' Express'd a wish to make it known :
* But Suitors' vows when they are made,
\ In quiet room or bowery shade,
' Are seldom with discretion weigh'd.
152 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' And oft are fashion'd to deceive
^ The Maid who ought to disbelieve.
' Thus I Ve determin'd to resort
' To something like an open Court,
' Where no one, sure, will dare to tell
' What watchful rivals may repel ;
' Or hide, by base, sophistic art,
' The real dictates of the heart.
' Thus I shall hear, what Female Youth
' So seldom hears — th 'unvarnish'd Truth.
' — Know then, that I, who here preside,
' The Tenour of your thoughts to guide,
' Shall draw a strong and certain Line,
' Which must your varying thoughts confine,
' Within the limits I ordain
' The several Claimants to maintain.
* You all of you have sought to prove
' That I 'm an object of your Love.
' The Colonel, by his am'rous story,
' Loves me far more than martial Glory ;
' And, call'd to witness all the Stars,
' That Cupid oft has vanquished Mars.
' — The Lawyer, in more formal way,
' With this I swear, and this I say.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 53
' I who ne'er yet have made a flaw
' In any Instrument of Law —
* I, who from my earliest youth
' Ne'er sinn'd against the rigid truth,
' Declare 'tis not for house or land,
' 'Tis honest Love makes the demand. J
That thus I ask your wedded hand ;
* — The Rector, with uplifted eyes
' Oifer'd of Love the sacrifice :
' With chaste desire and passion pure
' Which should for evermore endure.
' — The Knight said, I was sweeter far
' Than roses or than vi'lets are,
' Then told the passion I inspir'd,
' And flames with which his heart was
' — The Quaker said, the Spirit mov'd him,
' And that he spoke as it behov'd him,
' To tell me he was nothing loth
' To love a Maid of comely growth ;
' That he believ'd my inward Grace
' Equal'd the bloom upon my Face,
' And that he no more wish'd to say
' Than Yea was Yea — and Nay was Nay.
' —The Doctor made me a Petition
' That I would prove his kind Physician.
154 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' He said his Med'cines fruitless prove
' To cure him of the pains of Love.
* And then with sighs the learned Elf,
* Implor'd me to prescribe Himself.
' — But this same thing which you call Love,
' Is what I wholly disapprove ;
' And thus my purpose I reveal : —
' The Man who doth this passion feel
' Shall never with Belinda wed,
' Or share with her the Marriage Bed.
' Poets and graver Prosemen tell us,
' 'Tis apt to make a Husband jealous ;
' Warms a fond Lover to be bold,
' And in a married man grows cold.
* — I, as a Wife, hope to possess
' That tranquil, temp'rate Happiness,
' Whose current may serenely flow,
' Nor rise too high, nor sink too low.
' In Nuptial bands, my wishes tend
' To meet a kind and faithful friend,
' Regard that glows, his heart may move,
' But he must never think of Love.
' Thus, as you sit in sightly row,
' You each may the pretensions shew,
ENGLLSH DANCE OF DEATH 155
' By which my fav'ring choice you seek : —
' Colonel, I call you first to speak.'
' Madam, e'en from my youthful day,
' I 've learn'd the Lesson to obey, —
' And now I pay submission due,
' Proud that Command proceeds from You
' But Honour is the Soldier's boast,
' He sinks to nought when that is lost :
' For Truth and Honour are the same —
' They only differ in the name.
' The Man, who breaks his plighted word,
• Ought not to wear his Country's sword,
' And that which now bedecks my side,
' Has ever been my darling pride :
' Nor shall a word of mine defame
' The Honour of a Soldier's name.
' I shall not then with falsehood sue ^
' Not e'en to be possess'd of You : —
' I said I lov'd — and told you true. J
' And if my passion you reward,
' This weapon shall your Beauty guard :
' I '11 crown you with a Soldier's wreath,
' And tond and faithful prove till death.
156 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' But if my Love you should decline,
' Belinda never can be mine.'
' As you instruct me not to Love,
' And the Froceedmg disapprove,
' As, Lady, you exclaim, O fye on't, —
' I '11 act as if you were my Client,
' And will, to my profession true,
' A writ of Utlcgatum sue,
' And then, with all its Paramours,
' Drive this same Passion out of doors :-
' Thus, I presume, my Lady fair,
' I shall by your Assignment share
' The various Assets you possess ;
' And, if you crown my Happiness,
' I '11 bind your Lands in strict Entail^
' Upon your Lawful Issue Male ;
' And will contrive to fence them round,
' As safe as beast within a pound ;
' While no Replevin^?, busy rout
' Shall e'er contrive to get them out.
' But, if no Issue Male should prove
' The Offspring of our mutual Love, —
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 57
' — Curse on the word, — how could I make
' Such an infernal, gross mistake !
' The Devil himself must have unstrung
' The practis'd caution of my tongue :
' But think not I could e'er intend
* To use a word that must offend ;
' Or that precise expression put,
' Which you 've thought wisely to
' 'Tis a Misnomer^ I declare it,
' And will not only say, but swear it.
' I therefore hope, my Lady Judge,
' You will not in your wisdom grudge
' To let me thus amend my statement,
' By instant arguing in abatement ;
' For Love was never seen or meant
* In any Marriage Settlement
' That I 've been ever call'd to draw,
' Nor is there such a word in Law.
' It ne'er was found in all my reading,
' Nor is it known in Special Pleading.
' — Nay, when I mention'd it before,
' Sitting beside your Green-house door, r
' I truly, Madam, meant no more J
' Than the affection and regard
* Which are of Marriage the Awa^d^
IS8 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' And, by fair, mutual Arbitration^
' Prevent domestic Litigation.
' And now, I trust, in time and place,
' You '11 be convinc'd I 've prov'd my case ;
' No more my Title will dispute,
' But tell me I have gain'd my Suit.'
' My much belov'd Parishioner,
' I 've heard the doctrines you prefer ;
' And scarcely think that you can wish
' Thus to prepare the Nuptial dish,
' Without th' ingredient, whose fine Zest
' Gives such a relish to Life's Feast :
' It almost makes me melancholy,
' That any fine-drawn scheme of Folly
' Should, by its influence, degrade
' A mind for higher objects made ;
' And, by its whimsies strange, impair
' Th' Attractions of a form so fair.
' — Love is a pure, a sacred fire,
' Not a mere sensual desire,
' But, true to Virtue's calm controul,
' Courts the best impulse of the soul ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 59
' A foe to all domestic strife,
' And gilds the Charities of Life ;
' Divides each anxious, gloomy care,
' And doubles ev'ry Joy we share,
' While Laws, both human and divine,
' To sanction all its rites combine.
' Of our first parents 'twas the boast
' Before their Innocence was lost,
' And no more certain safeguard 's known,
' In mortal Life, to keep our own.
' Most sacred are the Nuptial bands,
' Which Heaven, in Holy writ, commands;
' And Heaven, we 're told, will ne'er approve
' Of Marriage unrefin'd by Love.
* Nor is Man more distinguish'd seen
' From any Beast that treads the green,
' From flying bird or creeping worm,
' By speech, by reason, or in form,
' Than by the secret springs which move
' And wake his Heart to virtuous Love.
' Beauty to your dear Sex was given
' To form for Man an earthly Heaven :
* But when an Angel's charms we view,
* Such, Madam, as we see in you,
' We ask an Angel's virtues too.
l6o ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' Yet, Beauty 's but a fading flower,
* That pleases only for an hour :
' 'Tis Virtue's Ofifice to impart
' Affection to the faithful heart,
* Which, when the day of Youth is past
' Till the Knell tolls, will love and last :-
' But, if the Fair that charms the sight
' Should prove a treach'rous Hypocrite;
' If the sweet Form so lovely seen
' Should entertain a Devil within,
' And such things, it is said, have been,
' She, as some hapless men may tell,
' Will turn the hop'd-for Heaven to Hell.
' You smile, — though 'tis not to divert you
' I speak my thoughts, — but to convert you,
' And change your fancies, which are treason
' Against Religion, Truth and Reason,
' To those sound tenets which will prove
' How weak to quarrel thus with Love.
* O let me, let me then impart
' The feelings of a tender heart ;
' O let me, the Physician be
' To cure you of your Heresy.
* The Church, enamour'd of your x:harms,
* To you displays its longing arms,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH l6l
* And I, its Minister attend,
* My fond, and pious aid to lend,
' To lead you to the sacred spot,
' Where Holy rites may tie the Knot,
' With chaste desire and passion pure
' Which shall throughout our lives
' Thus, with a renovated mind,
' And your false notions left behind,
' With me true happiness you '11 prove,
* And your whole Life be Joy and Love.*
' Madam, a faithful Knight you see,
' But who disdains Knight Errantry : —
' That stuff and nonsense is no more,
' The day of Chivalry is o'er.
' I would not my fore-finger move
' To mark the least respect for Love,
' Since you the passion disapprove ; —
* Though I ne'er failed to pay my Duty
* To such a sov'reign good as Beauty ;
* ' Believe me then, when I impart
* That Love is banish'd from my heart ;
VOL. II. — L
l62 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' That I 'm prepar'd to pass my Life
* In rend'ring you a happy Wife,
' By those wise rules you 've given to guide
' Their claims who seek you for a Bride.
* I '11 take you from the Sylvan plain,
' And place you where you're form'd to
* Where your superior Heart will prove
' The seat of Honour, not of Love ;
* Where all those higher joys will wait,
' Attendant on your crowded gate,
* Which Heaven in its indulgence pours,
' To suit a noble mind like yours.
* — The moment you assume my name,
* You will become a titled Dame,
* And those obeisances receive
* Which Birth alone knows how to give,
* In all due fashion and degree,
' To dignified Philosophy.
' O with what splendour you '11 appear
' When seated in your proper sphere :
* Come then, and let me place you there. ,
' In this retreat no longer stay,
* But to enjoy the Nuptial Day.
' Leave Cupid, and his boasted slaughters,
' To Country clowns and Farmers' daughters ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 163
And haste to the delights of Town,
Where the sly Rascal 's scarcely known.
There, in whatever point you move,
You '11 never see the Daemon Love,
But as he may peep from a Carriage,
A week before, or after Marriage ;
And of such short-liv'd humour savours.
As scarce out-lasts the marriage favours :
Ne'er will He your attention gain.
But to confirm your just disdain.
— When to the Circle you resort.
Be sure, you '11 find no Love at Court :
If you pop forth to breathe the air.
In a Balcony in a Square,
No symptoms of the tender passion
Will you perceive, — 'tis not the Fashion.
If to the Opera you repair, '
And help to form the Splendour there,
Mention but Love, they all will flout it.
Though Catalani sings about it.
Then we will wed, if you approve.
Without one common type of Love :
No bells shall ring, no gaudy flower
Shall idly deck the solemn hour,
But we will instantly appear,
As married folks of half a year j
1 64 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
- Nay, while I live, you may depend
' Love shall not on our steps attend ;
* For to your ev'ry wish I 'd bend ; —
* Not Plato's self would prove more true
* To your Philosophy, — and You.'
' The Spirit moves me to declare,
* I think thee Friend, exceeding fair.
* Thou 'rt of good liking, I confess,
* And the fresh bloom of Youth possess.
' Nature has made thy figure strait,
' And thou art modest in thy gait.
' But though thou 'rt pleasing to the eye,
* I will not please by flattery ;
' But think the good old adage true
* Of — handsome they who handsome do.
* I upwards from my earliest youth
' Have thought it right to speak the truth,
* Nor ever will my mind disguise,
' As some, I see, — by telling Lies.
' — The Man of War, I 'm feign to own,
' Made his respectful wishes known,
' As one, if I can clearly see,
' Who would prove true to Love and thee :
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 165
But, if thou wilt from Reason range,
If thou wilt not thy Fancies change,
No man of tenderness and sense
Will e'er give thee the preference ;
And it will be thy gold alone
That with an Husband makes thee one.
— I say no more than I pretend;
Mine is the Language of a Friend ;
Untaught by Fashion or by Art,
I speak the dictates of the heart.
Yes, I could love thee, to be free,
In truth, and in simplicity ;
But then thou must the vow maintain,
That I should be belov'd again :
The Woman who should scoff at Love,
Will ne'er, I 'm sure, my Spirit move.
Thou talk'st with great disdain about it,
But what 's a Husband's heart without it ? —
Without it I should think a wife
Would only be a plague for Life ; —
She should not have my nuptial vow,
Though she were twice as rich as thou.
— The Man of War, 1 'm free to own,
Made his respectful offers known
As truth his wishes did impart,
Warm and ingenuous from the heart ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And, if I may his notions trust,
For I would feign to all be just,
Thy wealth will tempt him not to wield
His spear in Philosophic Field,
Darken'd with plants of dismal hue,
And where the Laurel never grew.
Thus, the brave Man of War, we see.
Doth with the Man of Peace agree,
In all things that relate to thee.
His thigh is girt with hostile sword,
My weapon is the peaceful word ;
But still our thoughts appear the same,
Though in a diff'rent form and name.
— Decided, calm and unperplex'd,
My friend the Rector took his Text :
Love was the Theme, but not the
That we are told, comes from above :
It rather seem'd to have a taint
Of the sly sinner than the Saint ;
But as the learned Doctor reason'd.
Had it not been so highly season'd
With a rich, spicy, flattering spell,
It might be said — He reason'd well.
^My friend the Knight, I do confess
Talk'd much of Joy and Happiness ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 167
' But would it not be well to know
' How far his promises may go ?
' For I have read as well as heard,
* That on a Courtier's flowery word,
' It is not prudence to rely
' Without some good Security.
' It now doth seem, that he doth see
' All right which doth proceed from thee.
* The notions in thy thoughts combin'd
' Are strait reflected to his mind :
' He bows to all that thou may'st say ;
* Thy Yea 's his Yea, — thy JVay 's his JVay.
* Say that the Sun runs round the Moon,
' Or midnight Stars shine bright at Noon,
' He will, with some fine Compliment,
' As to unerring truths assent.
' But when the Wedding ring has bound,
* With Magic power thy finger round,
' And when thou 'st said the word odey^
' Tell me what will thy Champion say ;
' Or, to employ a term more true,
' Tell me what will thy Champion do.
' Think then, I pray thee, and attend
' To the kind counsels of a Friend,
' And if thy Fancy still commands
* Love's absence from the Nuptial Bands,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Contrive that Prudence be thy guide
When thou resolv'st to be a Bride.
But if no reas'ning can remove
This strange antipathy to Love,
E'en take tW AUorney for thy mate,
And thou may'st quickly learn to kafe.
— My Friend the Doctor is preparing,
As I perceive, to gain a hearing :
Whether it be his skilful aim
Thy whims and follies to inflame,
Or, by some lulling, opiate draught,
To still thy fond, prevailing thought ;
Or to prescribe a yielding Yea^
And take thy Fortune for a Fee^
I cannot tell ; — but this I say,
In my plain, honest, simple way,
A better fate he would ensure thee,
If he would either kill or cure thee.
— Thus, having closed what I begun.
The Spirit moves me to have done.'
He spoke, the Doctor to the ear
Of the attentive Maid drew near.
With due respect, to give the potion
Of grave submission and devotion.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 69
When Death was seen, with stately air,
To stand behind Belinda's Chair.
He look'd, or seem'd to look, around,
And cloth'd his words in hollow sound.
' You may depart, the Contest's o'er;
' Your rivalry exists no more :
' She is not fit, strange Maid, to wed
* With living wight, but with the dead :
* I, therefore, seize her as my Bride.'
Belinda trembled, gasp'd, — and died.
1 70 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
The Dinner and its labours o'er,
Bacchus unfolds his various store,
The Ruby Juice, the mingled Bowl,
To drown the sorrows of the Soul.
— With ready step and blithsome air,
The grave Toastm aster takes the Chair :
The wine soon sparkled in the glass,
And gladness beam'd in ev'ry face :
When, to begin the scene of Glee,
The King was given, with three times three ;
And may he live was echoed round.
Till of high virtue may be found,
In every realm, on every throne.
Examples equal to his own.
Then the gay guests their Bumpers ply
To all the Royal Family.
Nor were the wooden walls forgot :
That they might never go to pot.
But still sustain the Nation's fame.
And give new splendor to its name,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 17I
Re-echoed round the Oaken Table,
While any votive voice was able.
To these were join'd the martial Bands,
Who, when their Country's call commands,
To seek the hostile plains prepare,
And plant the British Laurel there.
But while the festive Goblets crown
The brave and virtuous with renown,
And shouts attend on Wellington,
The bumper Curses loudly wait
On the subdued Napoleon ?> Fate,
As the wide sea he passes o'er.
To trouble Europe's peace no more.
Of Beauties then the num'rous Line
Sweetens the copious draughts of wine.
— And now, commanded by the power
That rul'd the inebriating hour.
Silence prevail'd : — Amid the smoke
Of fuming pipes the Chairman spoke :
* — My Friends, according to my thinking,
' No pleasure is in Life like drinking ;
* It is the bottle and the bowl,
' That gives true pleasure to the Soul,
* And drowns each sullen, meddling
' That strives to take possession there.
1/2 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
* While thus I sit, I know no strife,
' Nor hear the Clamours of my Wife ;
* And, when our jovial Meeting's o'er,
* Fearless I '11 ope my mansion door,
' And care not for the horrid din
* That waits me when I enter in ;
' Laugh at her noise, and put off sorrow
' To sober hours and dull to-morrow.
* — The brave Lieutenant^ who sits there,
' Forgets the unrewarded Scar,
' And the bluff Major ^ waxing gay,
' With Locks in toils of war grown grey,
* Heeds not the pittance of his pay.
* — The Squire, who pours his Liquor out,
* Feels not he ever had the Gout,
' And laughs at all the tort'ring pain,
' Though it may threaten him again.
' While thus we quaff, and laugh and
' Time flits with an unwearied wing;
' But Bacchus every want supplies,
' And gilds each moment as it flies.
* And now a Toast I shall present,
' Or what is call'd a Sentiment,
* In which my Friends will all agree ;
' So fill each glass and drink with me.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 173
* — May we enjoy the power of drinking
* Till we have lost the power of thinking ! '
He strove his Goblet to prepare,
But sunk down senseless from his chair.
Death enter'd then with grimly grace,
And occupied the vacant place.
Some at the strange appearance star'd,
While others by the Phantom scar'd,
Let loose their Glass, but prov'd unable
To hide their fears beneath the Table ;
Or, failing to find out the door,
Stumbled and struggled on the floor.
The Chairman gravely said, ' I 'm come
* To lead some of you safely home.
' But I propose one Bumper more,
' And then the jovial Meeting's o'er.
* The End of Life'?, the Toast I give':
* That's Drinking, Sir, as I conceive,'
The 'Squire replied ; ' so fill my Glass,
' And, prithee, let the Ladle pass.
' The End of Life ^' the Toper cries.
Empties his brimming Cup, and dies.
1/4 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
THE CARELESS AND THE CAREFUL
Ask the Doctor, whose renown
"His skill has spread throughout the Town,
Whose rolling Chariot 's daily seen
From Temple Bar to Lisson Green ;
Yes, ask him, if you know him well,
And He the real Truth will tell.
What 's the complaint or the Disease
That brings the largest heap of Fees :
He '11 tell you Folly is the Mine
That feeds the Sons of Medicine.
Intemperance, in whatever way
It doth its various forms display,
Whether, in Bacchanalian Hours,
It overcomes the Reas'ning Powers ;
Or, gloting o'er the daily Feast,
The Glutton sinks into the Beast;
Whene'er it doth desire inflame,
'Tis Folly by another name.
When sage Discretion 's laid aside,
That Passion may be gratified,
, — 1
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 75
We may forebode the coming ill
That calls for Potion or for Pill.
Is there a form in which excess
Can minister to Happiness ?
No, 'tis, alas, a source of pain,
Of pale Disease, and all its train.
If the repeated draughts you seek
Which burn the palm and flush the cheek ;
If the too frequent banquets press
The Stomach with their Lusciousness ; —
If, shunning Nature, you invite
Whate'er the Pamper'd appetite
Demands to gratify the taste.
You'll quickly bring your health to waste.
If, bred in Lux'ry's various schools,
You mock at Nature's simple Rules, —
Prepare the Fees ; — for, soon or late
The Galens will assail your gate.
It is the Folly which opposes
Calm Nature's way that calls for Doses :
The Doctors would give up their System
As gainless, did not Fools assist 'em.
— Nature and Prudence, and Discretion
Are doubtless of the same Profession ;
Their general object is the same.
They differ little but in name ;
176 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
While Folly 's ever seen to be
A constant foe to all the three.
— Whate'er may be the Course of
Whether it leads to peace or strife ; —
Its way all safe or fill'd with snares,
With pleasures gay or sad with cares ; —
Whether 'tis poverty or wealth,
Or sickness pale, or rosy health ;
By Reason sage we shall be blam'd,
If of those powers so lately nam'd.
We do not ask continual aid,
Or old or young, of man or maid :
Whate'er our Rank or our Profession,
Nature and Prudence, and Discretion,
Or in our station or our frame,
Should in their influence be the same.
Experience, in her ample school,
Cannot provide a better rule j
Yet we 're too apt to play the fool.
— Howe'er it is not to the great,
To those who live in Wealth and State,
Or bustle in the busy strife
That marks the active scenes of Life,
To whom my Moral I display.
But to the thoughtless and the gay ; —
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 7/
The wholesome subject pays its duty
To giddy Youth and careless Beauty.
Miss Mary, and her sister Sophy,
Were seen to bear the envied Trophy
Which Beauty's Queen, 'tis said, confers
On certain favourites of hers :
Nor will it, sure, be thought untrue
That this the conscious Ladies knew :
'Twas nat'ral, therefore, the desire
To go where gazing eyes admire :
One Evening then, at Pleasure's call.
They brought their Grace ' to a Ball :
What Envy the fair Nymphs excited,
How oft to dance they were invited,
What admiration was bestow'd,
What Love-sick Beaux around them bow'd.
Are things the humble verse will leave
For any Fancy to conceive ;
And Fancy may suppose, the night
Gave a succession of Delight.
But Pleasure's season must be o'er,
And when the Band was heard no more,
The Sisters sat them down to cool
Their heated Forms and play the fool.
VOL. II. — M
178 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
They laughed at those who spoke their fright,
As the loud Storm disturb'd the night,
And Quizz'd the Carefuls as they bawl
For Cloak and Fur and wrapping Shawl.
— Their Coach was call'd, it was not come :
* Ne'er mind,' they said, * we 're so near
* home ;
' And it will be delightful Fun,
' In such a night to have a run.
* Come, Major, give us either arm,
* We can skip on and take no harm :
' Besides, your fierce cock'd Hat and Feather
* Will, surely, save us from the weather.
' The Care of such a gallant Fellow
* Is better far than an Umbrella.'
— They saw a Lanthern dance before
To guide them onward to their door.
But knew not who the Lantern bore.
'Twas Death, alas, who lit them home ;
And the Fool's Frolic seal'd their doom.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 79
THE LAW OVERTHROWN
It is not easy to conceive,
That social Law should e'er deceive ;
That what for our protection 's made
Should prove a pettifogging trade.
Form'd on maxims just and true,
Bearing Man's happiness in view,
And in the clear distinction strong
Of what is right and what is wrong ;
Yet it is made our lives to fill
With sad varieties of ill ;
And thus the most opprobrious fame
Attends upon the Attorney^ name.
— Nay, these Professors seem asham'd
To have their legal title nam'd :
Unless my observation errs
They 're all become Solicitors^
A change that 's now assum'd, we see.
By all of the Fraternity.
If they 're oblig'd to advertise
In the News-paper Diaries,
l80 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
'Tis now the Fashion to refer
To such a one — Solicitor.
Ask an Attorney his Address,
He will no more the name confess,
And on his printed Card is seen
Solicitor — in Street, or Inn,
Though he had never got so high
As one fat Suit in Chancery.
— Unless the daily Prints deceive
Attornies must for ever live ;
At least, no Paragraph supplies
Th' account that an Attorney dies :
'Tis the Solicitors alone
Whom they with deathly notice own.
— But still distinction must be made
Between the Classes of the Trade :
For he who guides the wordy war
That marks the Contests of the Bar,
Where we oft hear superior sense
Cloth'd in the brightest Eloquence,
Must not partake the common feelings
That waits upon th' Attornies^ dealings.
They are a class in ev'ry Nation
Who live alone by Litigation ;
Who oft grow rich by working strife.
And fatten on the Ills of Life.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH l8l
Whether 'tis Shakespeare, or Moliere,
Johnson or Congreve, or Voltaire,
Whatever Country's comic Stage
Does the dramatic mind engage,
Th' Attorney with degraded mien
Appears to turpify the scene.
Law in itself is just and good
When it is practised as it should.
And Lawgivers can ne'er intend
What Justice never can defend.
It therefore, very strange appears.
That Clients should, for twenty years.
With all appliances to boot.
Be wading through a Chancery Suit ;
And, after twenty years are run.
May gain their Suits, and be undone.
— Still there are Men whose names rank "\
Lawyers who may reproach defy.
There 's Redesdale and there 's Romilly
Redesdale, who snatches from the claw
Of the vile Harpies of the Law,
The Debtor in his hopeless state,
And opens wide the Prison gate :
1 82 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
While RoMiLLY, though oft in vain,
Strives to correct the low Chicane
That, by the Pettifogger's art,
Keeps Law and Justice far apart.
But still it is the Pleader's fate
His reasonings to accommodate
Not always to his own Belief,
But to the Attorney's dubious Brief.
And though his knowledge may cry fye on't.
He turns and twists it for his Client ;
Nor will his Practice think it treason,
To make the worse the better reason.
Some Writer of our age and nation
Has made the following observation :
That Annals old the time display,
When Priests bore universal sway ;
And nought was seen but spire and bower.
The seats of their o'er-ruling power.
But now the Lawyers seem to ride
In a new form of power and pride.
Some, though the numbers are not great,
Are seen to rise to rank and state ;
While many, as it were by stealth,
Cr^ep on to figure and to wealth ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 83
Not as by chance, now here now there,
They're known and noted every where.
— As you pass through a country town,
Ask, who doth the best mansion own ;
You 're told 'tis Lawyer such a one.
And the reply, rough and uncivil.
May, perhaps, wish him with the Devil.
— But still no groundless wrong is meant, '
I reason not with foul intent,
I plead the general Assent :
On those opinions rests the tale
Which universally prevail.
Lawyers, like other men, are made,
'Tis not their nature I upbraid :
No, — 'tis the nature of their trade,
Which feuds create and quarrels bless.
And whose chief dealing is distress.
When their curs'd offices they quit,
When out of sight of Bill or Writ ;
When they think not of Scire Facias^
Nor Bailiff waits to take a Capias,
Like men, in other occupations,
They do the duties of their stations.
And pass through Life with equal
Lawyer 's not written in their face.
1 84 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
— I wish 'twere otherwise, that Law
Were practis'd without Quirk or Flaw ;
But while these Quirks and Flaws remain
The Practice must reproach sustain.
I 've somewhere read, though I 've forgot
The Author who the Story wrote,
Perhaps Quevedo here may claim
The honour of the Author's name :
But, though I can't precisely tell,
The Narrative will do as well.
Suffice it then, that it should seem,
Some lively Sleeper had a dream,
In which, as Fancy took its turn,
He thought he was by Spirits borne
To the terrific, vast Domain
Where Satan holds his dismal reign.
But it were needless to describe
The flaming pomp, the sable tribe
Which on th' infernal Sov'reign wait,
Compose his train and form his state.
The Devil, however, did his best,
And graciously receiv'd his Guest ;
Then drove him, in a Tandem^ round
His awful Kingdom's ample bound.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 85
So swift he went there was no need
To urge the Dragons' rapid speed.
He then display'd the parts assign'd
To different classes of Mankind,
Whose Spirits, borne on Fate's dark
Are daily peopling his Dominions.
At length they reach an arid space
Which crags and sulph'rous thorns deface,
Where the weak, dazzled, mortal eye
Could not discern the Boundary.
When, as the livid Lightnings flam'd,
The Dreamer thought that he exclaim'd —
* This Plain 's of an enormous size.'
' But npt too large,' the Devil replies :
* For no Attorney e'er drew breath
' Who will not dwell there after death ;
' And all who live in times to come,
* Will find the same allotted doom,
* Unless a change yet unforseen,
' Should, in their practice, intervene :
' While, in a smoking vale behind,
* Some of their Clients are confin'd,
' Who in their various trickings join'd ;
* And they, at seasons, to amuse 'em,
* Are there permitted to abuse 'em.'
1 86 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
When, as he spoke, such horrid noises
Were utter'd by their mingled voices,
That the poor Dreamer's sleep was broke,
And glad he was when he awoke.
But some, who Ve been reputed wise,
Explain dreams by their contraries :
In fact, these visions of the Night,
May be, by chance or wrong or right ;
And this same dream may prove as well,
The Attornies never go to Hell ;
As by the simple meaning given.
That these same folks ne'er go to Heaven,
But yet, perhaps, without pretence,
To more than common, mother sense.
We may the knotty point determine
As well as Judges clad in ermine.
Let us suppose that Power supreme,
Where-ever placed, should form a scheme
That, if in Equity or Law,
A Suit by any Trick or Flaw,
By any counterfeit contrivance.
Of crafty plea, or sly connivance,
Should last beyond four Terms, at most,
Th' Attornies should pay all the Cost.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 8/
Then, that the power of Legislation
Should ask the voice of all the Nation
Whether the change, well understood,
Would not be found 2, public goodl
Now, when this question were afloat,
How, say you, would the Attornies vote?
Would they, like honest men and true,
Keep right and Justice in their view,
Or think 'twould hurt the Revenue :
And, therefore, for th' Exchequer's sake,
They must th' opposing party take.
But this I leave to the decree
Of those who wiser are than me.
O that sage, Serjeant Brawl were here,"
To try and make the question clear !
But he is gone I know not where.
— Full fifty thousand cases load,
As it is said, the British Code,
Compil'd in Judgments, call'd Reports
Which dictate to the puzzled Courts ;
From these he could collect a string,
And to aid any reasoning bring ;
While, to oppose it o'er and o'er,
He could find out as many more.
1 88 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
But he has met a sudden Fate,
Near Rufus' Hall wide op'ning gate.
A Hackney Chariot waited there,
To take him home to BloonisbWy Square.
Death mounts the Box and plies the thong,
The angry horses dart along : —
The wheels a Paviour's barrow meet,
Brim full of stones to mend the street.
To stop, th' affrighted Serjeant calls,
And, as the o'erturning Carriage falls,
' I '11 bring an Action,' loud he cries, — "^
Fate to the stones his head applies ;
The Action's brought The Serjeant
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 89
THE FORTUNE TELLER
It has been said, that Man, by Nature,
Is but a superstitious Creature.
If I err not, 'twas Burke's, opinion,
And he may seem to claim dominion,
As a Philosopher and Sage,
In this illuminated age.
Which his superior mind adorn'd,
And through whose years he will be mourn'd ;
Nor in what doth to Man belong,
Am I dispos'd to think him wrong.
— If we look through th' historic page,
And travel on from Age to Age,
It will to our research appear,
As the Meridian Phoebus clear
What notions strange, Men have conceiv'd,
What contraries they have believ'd :
In ev'ry time, 'neath ev'ry sky,
We see the same Credulity.
The Pagan Augurs swore they knew
Why Birds or this or that way flew ;
190 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And Oracles proclaim'd the Law
To ^ceep the vulgar Folk in awe,
While the keen Conj'rors of the State
Assum'd to know the will of Fate.
The monkish Ages then succeed,
Govern'd by superstition's creed,
When mystic men in holy robe',
O'er-ran one quarter of the globe :—
Nay, in this most enlighten'd Age,
So philosophic and so sage.
When Knowledge is so much the rage.
E'en now we see the human mind,
On many strange occasions blind :
Not when she chuses to dispense
Her pleasures to each diff 'rent sense,
But, as she in her fancy varies.
Her idle whimsies and vagaries.
How many cheeks will now turn pale
At hearing of the Goblin's tale !
How many tremble with affright
At dreams that have perplex'd the night !
A Raven's croak, a Magpie's chatter.
To numbers is a serious matter :
And when abroad they think to roam
Will check their steps and turn them home.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH I9I
How many Matrons daily see
The grounds of Fate, in grounds of Tea !
If fair Maria breaks a glass,
She 's sure some ill will come to pass ;
But, if the Salt, by chance she spills.
She then foresees a thousand ills :
Though, for her comfort, she grows bolder.
When she has thrown it o'er her shoulder.
— Lay knives across upon a table.
It will some appetite disable :
Check the digestion of the meat,
And spoil the pleasures of a treat.
— If a poor Dog tied up at night.
Perchance should howl, it shakes with fright
The Nurse who sits by Sick-man's bed.
As a Knell tolling for the dead.
E'en Gipsies still pursue their trade.
And daily get their vagrant bread,
By boasting the pretence to be
Skill'd in the arts of Palmistry :
Ay, still what num'rous fools are known
To learn their Fate of Norwood's Crone,
— Thus in our bright, instructive day,
When Science rules with potent sway ;
When Knowledge ev'rywherfe expands
And gets into so many hands ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
When Reason claims its widest reign,
The whims of Folly still remain ;
And Hope and Fear, in constant strife,
Continue to embarrass Life.
Soothsayers have been long at rest,
And Oracles are now a jest :
We think not that the Comet brings
The overthrow of Thrones and Kings :
Nor, as of old, view with despair,
The progress of the wond'rous star ;
Yet still, how often we apply
The workings of Credulity,
And calculate on Horoscopes,
To calm our Fears, or wake our Hopes :
'Tis weakness. Folly, what you will ;
But the vain search is practised still ;
Or wherefore is it so well known,
That, in each corner of the Town,
Some artful, knavish Rascal dwells,
Who, with grave aspect. Fortunes tells ;
While, to each List'ner he pretends
That He and Fate have long been Friends ;
And, by his Art, he can unlock it,
As easily as pick a pocket.
— To satisfy, while Reason 's blind.
The whimsy of the erring mind
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 193
That doth in some weak moment, brood,
O'er fear of ill, or hope of good,
'Tis known that scarce a day is past
But some fair Maiden's Lot is cast ;
Or tender Damsel seeks to prove,
What is to be her P'ate in Love.
Or eager Spendthrift doth apply
To know when his old Sire will die :
Or Miser bribes him to be told
That he shall long enjoy his gold ;
While he to know doth humbly crave,
If Coin is current in the Grave.
As I 've been told, the other day.
Two Ladies did a visit pay.
With a Bank Note and their Petitions,
To one of these self-dubb'd Magicians^
Possess'd of a low, crafty sense,
Sustain'd by force of Impudence,
And dealing out the will of Heaven
According to the price that 's given.
For Ladies of the Higher Sort,
Either from Folly or for Sport,
Will visit, cloak'd up in disguise,
These Emperics in Prophecies,
To laugh at, or believe their lies.
^OL. II. — N
194 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
In large arm'd Chair this Merlin sate,
Prepar'd to sell the will of Fate ;
And forming Packets from the sky,
For any Fools who came to buy.
The subtle Knave was well array'd
In all the Costume of his Trade,
With sable Gown, and Cap well
The potent Wand, and flowing Beard.
Above an Alligator hung,
Beneath a range of Orbs was strung j
While, on a Globe, to aid the cheat.
Grimalkin occupied a seat ;
For the unconscious mewing beast
Was thought to be a Witch at least.
Hither the curious Ladies went,
Upon their timorous errand bent ;
Trembling their Story they relate,
Then wait in awe to know their Fate
When thus the solemn Cunning Man
His grave, mysterious speech began.
' To me all Fate, all Fortune's known.'
When it was said, in hollow tone,
' Vain boaster — can you tell your own ? '
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH I95
'Twas Death who spoke: Behind the
He did his fatal Scheme prepare.
The magic mumm'ry fell around,
And Globes and Spheres bestrew'd the
— Weigh'd down by falsehoods, fraud and lies,
The howling Fortune-teller dies.
196 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
THE LOTTERY OFFICE
Among the passions that infest
The region of the human breast,
That which enjoys the longest reign,
Is known to be the Love of Gain.
— The Zest for pleasure oft decays
E'er man has witness'd half his days ;
Ambition too as oft is fled,
E'er the hair whitens on the head ;
Nay, the inspiring meed of Fame,
Is oft'times thought an empty name,
E'er Health has ceas'd its crimson glow.
Or Time with care has mark'd the brow.
But Love of gain will ne'er depart.
When once it seizes on the heart :
But waits on Life, in ev'ry stage.
From Youth e'en to the dregs of Age.
— All look with horror on the vice
That bears the name of Avarice ;
And yet it takes the worser name
When it becomes the Love of Game.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH I97
In the high ranks of Life what ruin,
What hurry to their own undoing,
What vain remorse, we daily see,
The fruits of this propensity.
But 'tis not in the Club alone
The heedless Gamester is undone.
'Tis even seen among the Classes
Of Liv'ried Lads, and Toilette Lasses.
Tyburn will tell that ruin flows
As rapidly from Little Goes ;
And Lotteries too oft supply
Cargoes for Bay of Botany.
— 'Tis not for those who deal in Rhyme,
Up to the Statesman's desk to climb,
Or else, 'twould be a willing task
Of some Financier just to ask —
Whether these Games, for Games they are,
Though fram'd by Legislative Care,
When by the moral vision view'd
Do not produce more harm than good;
And, to the lower ranks supply
A tempting Lure to Villainy.
'Twas Mary's case : — Poor Mary came
To serve a fashionable Dame,
198 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
And never fail'd to do her duty
In waiting on the shrine of Beauty ;
But, from some whimsy of her own,
E'er she had Hv'd a year in Town,
Mary was prone to entertain
This idle Fancy in her brain ; —
That, e'er she had out-run Life's Heyday,
She should herself become a Lady.
For she had Beauty, as she knew,
And her red cheeks, and eyes so blue
Had given a colour to the Line
Of many a flatt'ring Valentine,
Besides, at any romping Ball
In Steward's Room, or Servant's Hall,
Mary was thought to bear the Bell
In smiling sweet and dancing well.
A Gipsey, also, had foretold
Some glut of unexpected Gold ;
And, among other flatt'ring Lies,
Had hinted at some golden prize,
From Fortune in the Lotteries.
In this fond Hope, her wages went,
And fruits of cast-off gowns were spent :
Nor was this all, — for many a Loan,
From the Blue Balls was fled and
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 1 99
But though no kind returns were made
In this unprofitable Trade ;
Hope yet remain'd. — One trial more
Might, all that she had lost restore :
While at each corner of the Street,
Her eyes some golden promise meet.
— Few thoughts, 'tis seen, alas, suffice
To urge the mind that's bent on vice.
And, to trip doubting Virtue's heels,
Old Harry no compunction feels : —
He thus suggested to poor Mary —
' You now your fav'rite point will carry,
' If you can get the JVumder bright
' Of which you dream'd the other night.'
* I know it well, as I 'm alive,'
Says she, ' 'twas Number Fifty Five.'
— Thus fiU'd with Hope, she risk'd her
And the rich Gem — an honest name,
By vent'ring on foul Fortune's game.
My Lady's Key the means supplies
That guards the splendid Draperies,
Which waited in the scented press
Till Fashion open'd their recess.
These she thus ventur'd to purloin
And soon produc'd the purchas'd coin.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Now Mary thought this could not be,
In fact, a real Robbery,
As they were all to be restor'd
The moment Fortune kept her word,
Which seem'd to be, so well assur'd,
When the bright Number was procur'd.
— Hope did alive her spirits keep,
Though Fear had sometimes murder'd sleep,
Till the day came that would reveal
The awful Mysteries of the Wheel.
She sought the Oracles who sate
T' unfold the Billets-doux of Fate,
And ask'd her Lot ; when Death appear'd
Behind the Desk, and strait uprear'd
His fleshless hand, in which was seen
A word of most terrific mien,
To which she trembling turn'd her head,
'Twas Blank the pale Advent'rer read.
* Then I must go, for all is gone,
' But where, — an outcast and undone.
' To madness only can I fly
' To lose a greater misery.'
' — From the sharp pangs of this sad hour,
' From Fortune's disappointing power,
' Thou art reliev'd ' ; the Spectre said.
— Mary was numbered with the Dead.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 201
THE PRISONER DISCHARGED
Whene'er the fatal Arrow flies
And some high-favour'd Mortal dies ;
Whene'er we hang o'er Beauty's bier ;
Sorrow awakes the flowing tear.
'Tis not in Nature thus to part
From those whose virtues warm'd our heart ;
From those whose charms were formed to
The melting soul to purest Love,
Without the bosom's keen distress
Which no words tell, no looks express :
But when the wretch pours forth the
That says — ' I 've laid my burden down ' ;
When wicked men from troubling cease.
And the long-wearied rest in peace ;
When Mercy calls us forth to see
Death set the hopeless pris'ner free,
We bless the inviolable doom,
And hail the Asylum of the tomb.
202 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Thank Heaven, the Debtor, though so late,
No longer shares the Felon's fate ;
No longer by the Laws' delays,
May be imprison'd half his days :
No longer is the prison made
The Harbour of that cruel trade
Which fed the insatiable maw
Of hungry, pettifogging Law :
The imprison'd Debtor now may see
The due approach of Liberty :
From Redesdale's patient, patriot care.
He now no longer need despair ;
No longer writhe beneath the Paw
Of griping Harpies of the Law :
But in the Prison's transient gloom.
May look for better times to come.
Redesdale, in thy great work, proceed !
Freedom will hail thee for the deed,
And doubt not, but each future age
Will bless the Patriot and the Sage.
But e'er the bold, correcting hand
Of Justice did, with mild command,
Sweep from the Law the petty powers
That curtail'd Freedom's rightful hours,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 203
And bid th' unfortunate Pris'ner see
The end of his Adversity ; —
— While yet the Iron Doors could close
Upon the Pris'ner and his woes,
And keep him fast for many a year,
With scarce an hope his heart to cheer^
Poor Morton, a sad tale to tell.
For all who knew him, loved him well,
Victim of Perjuries and Lies,
The base Attorney's trickeries.
And all the dark, insidious arts
Which Knaves employ on gen'rous hearts,
Within those walls became immur'd.
Where so much sorrow is endur'd.
His friends prov'd kind, and in his
There was no want of gen'rous deed ;
But Friendship's self, with all its power.
Could not advance fair Freedom's hour :
Thus, when three years had pass'd away
In Lawyers' frauds, in Laws' delay,
His spirit could no longer wait ;
He call'd on Death to close his Fate : —
The Spectre led him through the Gate.
When, as he pass'd the Prison Door,
Old Capias rail'd, and storm'd and swore.
204 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Revil'd Death as an arrant Cheat,
Who did his writs and tricks defeat,
And could the hopeless Pris'ner free,
From all his practic'd Sorcery.
But Morton 's gone to that bless'd Heaven,
Where sins, like his, will be forgiven ;
Where all Afflictions will be o'er.
And suffering Virtue sigh no more :
While Capias^ and the unfeeling brood.
Who diet on the Heart's best blood.
And feed on Sorrows, will despair
Of ever finding entrance there.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 20$
THE GALLANT'S DOWNFALL
When sated Glory digs the Grave
Where Vict'ry's flaunting banners wave,
^ We croud around the Hero's bier.
And grateful shed the patriot tear ;
While public grief prepares the tomb,
Where laurels will for ever bloom.
But when War's clam'rous clangors cease,
And, in the tranquil home of peace,
The Soldier calmly yields his breath
To the resistless power of Death,
In dirges due and sad array.
He 's borne along the Church-yard way,
And by his Grave no more is said
Than sanctifies the vulgar dead.
— If the brave man whom Fortune spares,
Amid the dang'rous din of Wars,
Should chance, in frolic ease, to die
By any common casualty ;
If all his vital powers should cease
By bursting of a Fowling Piece,
206 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Or, if inclin'd to play the fool
By vent'ring on th' half-frozen pool,
And spite of Caution's sage advice,
Should find a grave beneath the Ice,
The termination of his story
Is so unlike Heroic Glory,
That some are apt to play the Fool
By turning it to ridicule.
But such was the young Hero's fate
Whose tale these pages will relate.
He was as brave as that keen sword
Which, to his honour, kept its word :
For oft as was its shining blade
In battle's bloody scene display'd.
The trembling foe was made to feel
The vengeance of the fatal steel.
— But when War's noble feats were done,
A thrifty praise was all he won.
With promise at some future day
That he should get a Captain's pay.
Thus, He was forc'd to sit him down
In Quarters in a Country Town ;
Where, having nothing else to do,
A Country Miss he chose to woo.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 20/
She was th' impatient daughter fair
Of a retired Officer,
Who had a Cornel's rank acquir'd,
And, still with martial honour fir'd,
Had made his purpose understood,
Through all the chatt'ring neighbourhood,
No Subaltern his girl should wed.
Or e'er ascend her marriage bed :
He should a Major be at least,
Whom he should join in Hymen's feast.
But the Lieutenant had contrived
By arts which often-times have thriv'd,
The fair Maria to persuade,
Who was a kind, susceptive maid.
To chaunt the burden of the Song,
That — 'Papas oftentimes are wrong.'
The Gard'ner too had lent a key
To aid the Son of Chivalry,
By which, at the appointed hour,
He could approach Love's sacred bower :
A Ladder too, both strong and tall,
Was always left against the wall,
By which th' Heroic Swain could clamber
With ease, into the Lady's Chamber.
There we suppose the moments flew
As quickly as they 're apt to do,
208 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
When tender Lovers steal an hour
To weave a wreath for Hymen's bower,
And they had hop'd they should be seen,
Within a week, at Gretna Green.
But Fate, that 's oft a Foe to Love,
Did not, it seems, the plan approve ;
And, as it oft has done before,
Left a fair Maiden to deplore.
The clock struck Ten, — with stately tread,
The Col'nel sought his feather bed :
When, as he pass'd, his watchful ear.
Did some unusual bustle hear.
Betty, who held the light, and knew,
That his suspicions might be true,
Said — ' La, Sir ! 'tis the cats that squall
' As they run on the Garden wall.'
' Then,' he replied, ' I '11 stop their squalling,
' And quickly spoil their cat-a-walling :
' So hold your tongue, and make no fuss,
' I '11 take my little Blunderbuss :
* Whoe'er they are, I hope to fright
* The rascals from their sport to-night.'
So on he march'd in martial state.
And boldly pass'd the Garden gate ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 209
When he took post behind a tree
To form some dire catastrophe ; —
Though the dark mantle of the night
Veil'd all things from his dizzy sight.
In the mean time the Hero came,
Burning with Love's all-daring flame,
And had the ready ladder found ;
But e'er he reach'd the upper round,
Grim Death, who, in a spiteful mood,
Watching beneath the window stood.
With ready power backward threw
The Ladder and the Lover too.
Who tumbled headlong in the pond,
Stuck in the mud and soon was drown 'd.
Just as the fatal work was done
The Col'nel fir'd his Evening Gun.
' Save him,' was poor Maria's cry,
* Or I shall burst with agony.'
Her Sire replied — ' Save him, save what !
' If I 've killed ought, it is a Cat.
* So get you gone, and go to bed,
* And drive these terrors from your head.'
Nor was it long e'er Betty cheers
The weeping Maid. — * Dispel your fears :
* For we have searched the Garden round,
* And not a creature 's to be found.
VOL. II. — o
2IO ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
* I think he 's safe from all this riot,
* And in his Quarters snug and quiet ;
* But should he wounded be, and die,
* Why need you, Madam, sob and sigh :
* Lovers in plenty will be found
' When the Lieutenant 's under ground.
' He was an handsome man, 'tis true,
' But not half good enough for you.
' Poor as he was, had you been married,
' Your scheme, I fear, would have miscarriedJ
' My Master would have stamp'd, and swore
' That he would never see you more ;
' And left you both to fast and pray
' On Love, and a Lieutenant's pay.
* But be th' event or right or wrong,
* Calmly submit — and hold your tongue.'
The morning came, the Pond display'd
The poor advent'rous Soldier dead,
And Miss was waken'd to recite
The Lesson of the over-night ;
When, with pale looks, she view'd the scene.
And wonder'd what it all could mean :
While the good people gape and stare,
And all exclaim, — ' How came he there? '
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 211
— The Col'nel, though ne'er bred at College,
Would boast of his superior knowledge ;
And was the Oracle well known
Of ev'ry Club about the Town.
All were prepar'd his thoughts to hear,
And thus he fill'd each list'ning ear.
' Had you e'er been where I have been,
' And had you seen what I have seen,
' You would have guess'd, as well as me,
' The cause of this Catastrophe.
* The poor Lieutenant was as gay
' And frolicsome as birds in May :
' Time, says the song, is on the wing,
' And Youth 's the Age to laugh and sing.
' He fledg'd his maiden sword in Spain,
' Nor did he draw it forth in vain ;
' And 'twas a Spanish trick he play'd
' To give my Girl a serenade : —
' I 've done the same when I was young,
' And to some Nymph by star-light sung :
' Thus, hoping to amuse my Daughter,
' The Gallant fell into the water.
' 'Twas a scheme after dinner form'd,
* And hence my garden has been storm'd :
* He, doubtless, had o'ercharg'd his glass,
* And this mishap has come to pass.
212 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
* A tear ne'er fills the Soldier's eyes,
* When on the plain a Soldier dies :
* To the heroic and the brave
* The Battle's field is Glory's grave ;
* But when this Boy in youth's fair flower
* Finds in a pond his final hour,
* I 'm forc'd to feel the ridicule,
' That He should die so like a Fool.'
i — I
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 213
THE CHURCH YARD DEBATE
Is there a point in which we see
That men of every rank agree ?
Is there a point which none dispute,
And which no reasoning can confute,
'Tis this, of motives sure the best.
When well explain'd — Self Interest.
— If to be happy is the view
Which all mankind through life pursue,
The way is plain, when understood ;
'Tis nothing more than to be good ;
'Tis Honour, Virtue, and the part
Which marks a truly honest heart ;
'Tis this completes the social plan
That forms the Happiness of Man.
Such is the wise unerring rule,
The Doctrine of the Christian School.
Man his best Interest thus pursues.
When banishing all narrow views,
All objects to himself confin'd,
He looks at large to human kind.
214 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
• First, to his kindred and his friends,
To neighbours then his virtue tends,
And, op'ning wide the vast embrace,
At length enfolds the human race.
Such the firm Joy that Life bestows,
Such the best cure for mortal woes.
But there are those, the verse must
Who think upon themselves alone ;
Whose self-regard we must express
By the foul name of selfishness :
A low, base, envious, glutton vice.
That general kind of Avarice,
Which, careless of all social ties.
In one dark narrow circle lies :
And 'tis this feeling which the verse.
Such as it is, must now rehearse.
One afternoon a Country Vicar
Regal'd, with his best, foaming liquor,
A Doctor by his skill renown'd
For many a mile the country round,
And a practitioner of Law,
Of whom that Country stood in awe.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 215
They gossip'd on the affairs of state,
Laugh'd at the follies of the great,
And prov'd, by various illustration,
That the times wanted reformation ;
And each of them, by turns, was sure
He could all Public Evils cure.
— Thus, as they pass'd away the hour,
The Bell from the adjoining tower
Gave notice by its sullen roar
That some poor mortal was no more.
'Squire B is gone, the Vicar said.
And comes to join the num'rous dead
Who in the Parish Church-yard lie.
Sad scene of frail mortality.
— The Doctor smil'd — ' So let it be,
' Hatband and scarf, and gloves and fee,
' Will well, my Friend, your pains repay
' In mingling him with common clay.'
— The Parson, looking grave, replied —
* He was your patient till He died ;
' And I receive the poor remains
* Of all the Doctor's daily gains.
* You, by the living, get your bread,
' I get a trifle by the dead ;
' But here 's a Lawyer, nothing loth,
* Contrives to profit by them both.'
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' I shall plead guilty to the bill,'
The Lawyer said : — * I made the Will
' Of this same 'Squire — God rest his soul,
' For whom this thund'ring Bell doth toll :
* Let 's to the Church-yard then proceed,
* And there the Instrument I '11 read,
* In which some whimsies will appear
* That may surprize you both to hear :
' 'Tis hot, and tombs are cooler far
' Than these red, well-stuff 'd cushions are.'
The proposition met assent.
And to the Church-yard strait they went;
But, when the curious party found.
Upon the consecrated ground.
Death and the Sexton, in high glee,
Discoursing on Mortality,
The Lawyer made a sudden start ;
But, seeing Death without his Dart,
And when, besides, he haply saw
A friendly pipe within his Jaw,
' Come on,* he said, 'and make no fuss,
* I 'm sure he '11 do no harm to us :
* So take your seats, and I '11 proceed
' In what I promis'd you to read.'
He then went through, in Lawyer's guise,
A long detail of Legacies,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 21 7
And learnedly explain'd the Laws
On which he fram'd each binding clause ;
When, having travell'd through the Will,
He enter'd on the Codicil,
And begg'd the Doctors to attend
To the strange Humour of their Friend.
' I leave to him, whoe'er he be,
' Who in my last Infirmity,
' Did on my hopeless bed attend,
' As a Physician and a Friend,
' The sterling sum of Fifty pounds,
' Or Guineas, if it better sounds.'
' That's me, by Jove,' the Doctor said :
' I left him not till he was dead.'
' — And the like sum to him who pray'd
' Beside my Couch, and duly paid
* Those solemn rites, when mortals lie
' In passing Life's extremity.'
' That's me,' the Parson then exclaim'd,
* As clearly as if I had been nam'd : —
' I say — He was of men the best,
' And now resides among the blest : —
* We all must reach our final home ' ; —
When some one cried — * we all are come ' :
And Lo, the Hearse, in funeral state.
Drew up before the Church-yard gate.
2l8 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Soon in the ground the 'Squire was laid,
And ev'ry requiem sung or said.
When, as a Herald throws his Stave^
Death threw his FiJ)e into the Grave.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 219
THE GOOD AND GREAT
Lord Roland, 'mong the good and great,
Had long maintain'd in honour'd state,
The calm renown which Virtue gives,
And lasts when Life no longer lives.
In early years the manly scar
Displayed his bravery in war :
Nor did maturer age conceal
His Labours for the Public weal.
At length fatigu'd with active life,
The world's gay throng and busy strife.
He sought, as a serene retreat.
The shades of his Patrician seat ;
Long there he liv'd almost ador'd.
For ev'ry Vassal lov'd his Lord.
Within the Mansion's stately hall,
The hospitable Virtues all
Display'd their bounties from a store
That charm'd the rich, and fed the poor :
Peace beam'd upon the wide domain.
And smiling toil enrich'd the plain.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Here Roland from the world remov'd
By young and old, by all belov'd,
Enjoy'd that animated rest
By which the good alone are blest ^
Nor had his noble mind a care
But for the virtues of his Heir.
He had no Son — He lost the Boy
Who once had been his darling joy ;
The Youth had measur'd Life's short span,
E'er He had reach'd the Age of Man,
And left the Titles which had run,
For many an age, from Sire to Son,
And all their Heritage, to grace
The Scions of a distant race.
At length, the proud illustrious Tree,
Emblazon'd with its Ancestry,
And all its bright heraldic fruit
Was seen to perish at the root :
Time plied his Scythe, and Death his Dart,
The leaves decay'd in ev'ry part.
And the last flow'ret ceas'd to bloom
When Roland sought the silent Tomb ;
He, with his brave forefathers slept,
And the surrounding country wept.
Such grief profound had seldom been
In Roland-hall, or felt or seen,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
As on the much-lamented day,
When, in Death's proud but sad array,
Its virtuous Lord was borne in state,
For ever, from its ancient Gate.
The dismal Spectre march'd before,
And his grim Scull the plumage bore,
While gazing folk their loss deplore.
The sable train the rites attend,
And all lament their common Friend :
Such the best Honours that await
The Funeral of the good and great.
222 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
THE NEXT HEIR
What sudden changes do we see,
What wonderful Variety,
In all that passes here below.
From Grief to Joy, from Joy to Woe !
How oft do the transitions seem
The rapid movements of a dream :
But no where does the change appear
So oft within one fleeting year ;
So oft display the motley mien
As in the pantomimic scene
Which Fashion, by her magic power.
Forms to enliven every hour.
Jack Dashall, who was so well known
In every public place in Town,
On whose Barouche and high-bred bays
The Youngsters did with envy, gaze ; —
Should it be ask'd where Jack is fled.
Or if He 's number'd with the dead,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 223
Or wherefore we no longer meet
The gayest lounger of the street ?
Why — He is lounging — in the Fleet.
AsPASiA made three winters gay,
With Dance and Song, and Feast and Play :
To the first Ton she op'd her doors :
Lit up her room, and chalk'd her floors :
Of Figure and Profusion proud,
She welcom'd all the titled crowd.
And thought herself supremely paid
By all the flatt'ring things they said.
But ah — extinct is all her Fame,
And Fashion never speaks her name.
The House is let, the Dame is flown,
And Pleasure's gay Regalia gone,
While she in distant Village pines,
And on a vulgar chicken dines :
When, to exasperate her Lot,
She hears that she is quite forgot \
That no one thinks upon the pleasure
In which she wasted all her treasure.
But I 've another change to tell,
Which a despairing Rake befel :
Who, as he welter'd in distress.
Was rais'd to instant happiness.
224 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
One morn, as on his restless bed,
Lord John reclin'd his aching head,
While sleep refus'd th' oblivious power
To add another drowsy hour :
Of Bonds, Post Obits, all the trade
On his resenting Mem'ry play'd ;
While all those missile papers storm
His yielding fears in ev'ry form,
With which the gaunt Attornies threat
Those who are over-charg'd with debt ;
While not another Jew in Town
Would lend his Lordship half-a-crown.
There He remain'd but ill at ease,
Watch'd by Law's base Satellites,
Smiling Distress, and prompt to seize.
Thus, as he on his pillow lay,
Pondering the Journals of the Day,
Fred'rick, his faithful Valet came.
And, breathless, scarcely could exclaim
* Great news, my Lord ! — Your cares are past,
' And Cousin Roland 's kind at last.'
' How is he kind ? ' was the reply.
* Why — he has been so kind to die. —
* Now, now, my Lord you need not fear
* Lawyers or Bailiffs : — you 're a Peer,
* With twice ten thousand pounds a year, j
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 22 5
' Simon, the Steward, is below,
' Who hurries up to Town, to know .
* What orders you may please to give ;
* And when the Hall is to receive
' Your presence, that he may prepare
' Each Honour due to Roland's Heir.'
— Up rose my Lord, and scarce believ'd
The welcome tidings He received.
When Simon came, and bow'd full low
While his old eyes with tears o'erflow.
' Ne'er mind, my Boy,' his Lordship said,
' Old Roland then, at length is dead :
' But that must be the fate of all,
* Of old and young, of great and small.
* It is not half an hour ago,
* My heart was so brimful of woe,
* That as I lay upon my bed
' I wish'd a bullet in my head.
' But, truce to whimp'ring and crying,
' Thank Heaven, I think no more of dying ;
* And while I live, be sure I '11 strive
' To keep old Roland Hall alive.
' But first I want ten thousand pound ; —
' That sum, good Simon, must be found,
' Though you should rob the Country
VOL. IL — P
226 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
' My present wants most loudly crave it.
' For let me tell you — I must have it ;
' And if you can't the money find,
' You 're not a Steward to my mind ;
' Though, if you to my wants attend,
' You '11 find me a most gen'rous friend.
' So not a word — but hasten down,
' As quickly as you came to Town ; —
' And let the country neighbours all,
' Within a month, expect a Ball,
' In a high style, at Roland HalV
— With aching heart, and shaking head,
Lamenting his old Master dead.
Old Simon sought his distant Home,
Foreboding little good to come.
— Nor was it long e'er the young Peer
Set off, to enter on the Sphere
Which now was his, already vain
Of Titles old and rich Domain.
With fury tow'rds the Hall he drove.
The Tandem hurried through the Grove,
Attended by the mingled noise
Of Horns and Hounds, of Men and
But, as his Tenantry await
To see him pass the Mansion Gate,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 22/
Death, on the foremost Horse was seen,
With eager look and 'vengeful mien,
And seem'd to say, * The Hatchment view,
* Vain Boy, for it may serve for you.'
The Chaise was high, the Gate was low,
His Head receiv'd the fatal blow
From the rude arch ; — He loos'd the rein.
And fell, no more to rise again.
— Thus, as Joy brighten'd Sorrow's gloom,
He sunk, untimely, to the Tomb.
But ah, those Sorrows did not wait
Upon his unexpected Fate,
Which mourn'd Lord Ronald good and
228 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
THE CHAMBER WAR
That Man with Man is prone to jar,
That Life is but a Scene of War,
HoBBES, a known Sage, with learning fraught,
Has, in a former cent'ry taught,
And when the Scenes of Life we view,
We might believe his maxim true.
For, turning from the hostile rage
Which Hist'ry gives of ev'ry age.
And offers, to the pitying eye,
The Horrors of that Deity ;
Whose lightnings have so oft been hurl'd
To thin and terrify the world,
We can't deny the daily strife
That interrupts domestic Life,
In every Form, in every State
From Grosv'nor Square to Billingsgate^
And sometimes proves, as I shall tell,
A Prelude to the Passing Bell.
Sir Samuel, as it appears,
Had reach'd the Age of four-score years,
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 229
Lame, weak and deaf, and almost blind,
To his arm-chair He was confin'd :
And while there 's Life, there 's Hope, they "
And three Physicians every day,
Came, gravely, for their daily pay.
A Nurse too, who her labours plied
In watching sick men till they died,
Had all that time, and longer, been
The Mistress of the Chamber Scene.
She did the Sick man's food prepare,
And nurs'd him with unwearied care.
She long had seen, for well she knew,
That Med'cine there had nought to do :
That drugs and potions would but tend
To hasten Life's declining end.
When the enfeebled, sinking frame
Could scarce put forth a quiv'ring flame :
But still the Doctors came each day,
And bore their golden Fees away.
Then, day by day, when gravely seated,
Order'd their Draughts to be repeated ;
Or, to give 'semblance to their skill,
Chang'd these same Draughts into a Pill.
But, when the three sage men were gone.
She turn'd the Med'cines, every one.
230 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Into some place that might secure
Their passage to the Common Sewer.
She then the useless Drugs supplied
With Kitchen Physic, which her pride
Did, with experienc'd skill, provide.
All know, in family concerns,
Some curious ear for ever learns
The passing secrets that prevail,
And works them up into a Tale ;
Which, though first whisper'd, will, at length,
Of loud report gain all the strength.
Thus were the Doctors taught to curse
The bold intrusions of the Nurse,
Who had presum'd to doubt their knowledge,
And practise Treason 'gainst the College ;
Which chang'd the Chamber's solemn quiet
Into a scene of rout and riot.
The Dons complain'd — the Nurse replied.
And her whole conduct justified :
Nay, some there are, in Med'cine's spite.
Who think th'old Woman's doctrine right.
Hard words alone, the strife began,
But soon to blows the contest ran.
At once, were Canes and Fists uprear'd,
Bed-pans and Clyster-pipes appear'd ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
While John, with pugilistic art,
Prepar'd to take the Nurse's part.
Phials and Wigs, in the uproar,
Were scatter'd all about the floor.
— The Patient cries. What 's this strange
Say, what can this disturbance mean ?
Your noisy words my pains increase :
I pray you — let me die in peace.
friendly Death, thy aid I crave,
1 ask for peace, within the Grave !
Death soon appear'd behind his chair,
And softly whisper'd in his ear —
* While these strange people disagree,
' You shall receive my Recipe ;
' Nor feel a pang, nor give a Fee. '
232 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
DEATH AND THE ANTIQUARIES
The Antiquaries, whose reliance
Is, on those curious parts of Science,
Which have been known but long forgot,
And would in dark oblivion rot,
Did not their ever anxious eyes
Pierce into all obscurities.
And thus unveil them once again
For modern Learning to explain.
These Sages. are oft known to grope
Upon a rugged Mountain's top,
And dig among the caverns deep.
Where wrecks of former ages sleep ;
While from the Castle's crumbling towers.
Or Gothic Abbey's ivied bowers,
They cull, for the historic page,
The truths of many a doubtful Age.
Thus are their useful Labours shewn.
New Lights on darkling times are thrown,
And Knowledge added to our own.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 233
— But sometimes I have heard it said,
They love to poke among the dead ;
And that these Antiquaries crave
A Permit to invade the Grave.
Once on a time, the story goes,
(My verse repeats what 's writ in prose),
A curious wish their fancies tickled
To know how Royal Folk were pickled ;
Or what was the preserving crust
That check'd their mould'ring into dust,
What Cearment kept them firm and pure
By its enfolding Coverture.
With these important ends in view,
Near to the sacred Tomb they drew.
Whose dark and narrow house contain'd
The lifeless form of one who reign'd
Within these realms, in days of yore.
And its proud Crown with lustre wore.
After the rest of many an age,
Yielding to antiquarian rage,
His Tomb's resisting walls give way,
And offer to the light of day
The corse which former ages wept.
And look'd as if it only slept.
234 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
While these grave men, the form survey'd,
And with their learn'd conjectures play'd,
Death, on th' enquiring groupe look'd
With horrid grin and angry frown :
But nor his shape nor griesly mien
Was by the busy Sages seen,
Nor could they hear the threat'ning word
He thus, as to himself, preferr'd.
' While you preserve the homage due,
' You may the solemn object view :
* Look while you list, — talk what you
' But hands off, Gentlemen, I pray.
' I '11 strike that curious fellow dumb,
' If he purloins a Royal thumb :
' This fatal dart his breast shall sting,
' If he slips off a royal ring.
' No tricks shall exercise their power
' Over this sacrilegious hour.'
But false was all the Sprite's alarm
For any meditated harm :
No, not a ring or rag was stole.
But all untouch'd, and safe and whole,
The Royal figure was return'd
To his dark house and re-inurn'd ;
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 235
There in Death's mansion to remain,
Nor e'er to be disturb'd again,
Till the great globe itself shall shake ;
Till the trump sounds and bids him wake.
236 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
THE DAINTY DISH
We know, because we daily see
In this world's vast variety,
That not a single foot of ground
Can in its ample space be found,
But in some form, or foul or fair,
Death may possess a victim there.
There 's not a thing but may be made
The Engine of his fatal Trade.
The very means by which the Strength
Of Nature 's fram'd, may put, at length,
By various, unexpected ways,
An early period to our days.
Pleasure, within its gaudy bowers.
May hide the Serpent train in flowers,
And, in the Banquet's costly round,
Delicious venom may be found.
— The gilded Palace cannot screen
The Owner of the splendid scene.
With all its pomp and all its state,
From the resistless stroke of Fate :
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 237
While, 'tis the humble Peasant's lot
To feel it in the straw-roof'd Cot.
Nay, in the proud, illumin'd hall,
Where the Feast usTiers in the Ball :
Where the rich Banquet gives delight,
And Beauty crowns the splendid night,
Death sometimes will his step advance.
Proclaim the Toast, and join the Dance.
—Whether by airy pleasure led.
Or Sorrow's thorny paths we tread ;
Whate'er the point to which we stray,
The Fun'rals meet us on our way.
Yet, of mankind, a num'rous part
Seem to be trying ev'ry art.
To dissipate the awful gloom
With which their fears becloud the tomb.
And shun the means they all possess
To turn it to their Happiness.
For Virtue, as we ought to know,
Can, to a Friend, convert the Foe.
Can, of his power, each fear beguile,
Force his grim frowns into a smile ;
And, whether 'tis our lot to feel
The triumph of his fatal Steel,
Or in Life's early, blooming years,
Or when the hoary head appears,
238 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Blest Virtue can the stroke defy,
And dying — claim the Victory.
Much do I wish my humble song
Were kindly call'd to dance along
The fragrant path where Virtue showers
The bloom of never-fading flowers.
But I am call'd where Folly rules
And marks its more distinguish'd Fools,
Where sensual Banquets, till they cloy,
Gives to the Glutton all his Joy.
There is no form which Vice puts on,
None so distinguish'd — no, not one.
So nauseous none, in Reason's eye
As the swoll'n shape of Gluttony.
— The gay, luxurious delights
In which some pass their days and nights.
Though to themselves the cause of ruin.
Yet, in the road to their undoing.
The Arts are call'd to gild the way.
And Genius doth its powers display.
While Labour whistles through the day. .
The Altar fair, whereon they waste
Their squander'd wealth, is form'd with Taste j
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 239
The Dome 'neath which the Tripod stands,
Is not the work of vulgar hands.
The Painter decorates the scene,
And sculptur'd marbles intervene.
E'en when the Spendthrift, rich no more,
For ever quits his Mansion door
To seek, perhaps, a foreign shore.
He still will leave of all that 's spent
Some gay, and costly Monument,
Which it may be the Stranger's lot,
T' enjoy with pride, when He 's forgot.
— E'en Avarice, that odious Elf,
Which hoards its gold and starves
That living fills an useless space,
Of erring nature the disgrace ;
Yet, by its savings, may prepare
A Fund of Virtue for an Heir,
If Fortune, in his breast, should find
The gen'rous Love of human kind.
Nay wine, though taken to excess.
Will, in its way, the spirits bless.
And make convivial joys abound
Though Reason gains a transient wound.
But these same cramming mortals meet
With gloating eyes the various treat ;
240 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
In silence at their tables sit,
Till they can't eat another bit ;
And when their well-cramm'd crops are full,
They grow immeasureably dull.
What is the good he e'er bestows
From Morning's dawn to Evening's close,
Who boasts it as his sole delight,
To gorge his rav'nous appetite ;
And joys, when he at noon can say,
* How lordly I shall dine to-day ' :
Then fills his gullet o'er and o'er,
And sighs that he can eat no more.
As the world's Victor, it is said,
The tears of disappointment shed.
That no more kingdoms rose to view
For his proud prowess to subdue ;
These Corm'rants, when the stomach 's still,
Weep for another paunch to fill.
Yes, such there are, and I knew one.
But from this world he 's lately gone.
Who thought and said, that Life's best prize
Was, when he pleas'd, to gormandize.
Ask him, what news ? He 'd tell you true,
What dinner he had then in view:
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 24 1
Repeat the dishes, half a score,
Which he had eat the day before ;
Nor hesitate to call it treason,
Not to know what was then in season.
— Of war he ne'er express'd a fear,
But that of making Turbot dear :
Though he would often wish for Peace,
As certain Taxes then might cease ;
By which event he would be able
To add some dainty to his table.
— At length his Limbs, with hobbling gait,
Could scarce support the body's weight ;
But, to the last, he could provide
Sufficient power his steps to guide
From his arm-chair and fire-side,
When Jonathan appear'd to state
That Dinner did his pleasure wait ;
When he would gobble Ven'son down,
Long after all his teeth were gone.
At the last Feast he e'er en joy 'd.
And when his taste should have been cloy'd,
* Where is my fav'rite dish,' he cried,
* Let some one place it by my side.'
Death heard his call and soon obey'd,
And by his side the dish display'd ;
VOL. II. — Q
242 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
When he exclaim'd, ' As I 'm a sinner,
' One slice — and I have clos'd my dinner.'
The slice his eager knife supplies.
It will not pass He choaks, — and dies.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 243
THE LAST STAGE
The course through which our Life is past,
From our first moments to our last,
Has been describ'd in various forms :
The river's calm, the ocean's storms;
The tranquil path, the beaten road.
By the great bulk of mortals trod.
Some in the wherry glide along,
Or tug the oar 'gainst billows strong,
Or turn with skill the swelling sail,
As fair or adverse winds prevail :
But though the emblem may be rude.
It is as clearly understood
If for our symbol we engage
The common Carriage call'd a Stage.
Few who their destin'd course begin.
Or from the Sun or Angel Inn,
Of the known way complete the whole
Through which the wheels are bound to roll.
244 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
When beaming Phoebus 'gins his race,
Each Passenger asserts his place ;
And with no small impatience waits
Till the Coach moves between the Gates.
Some, e'er a few short hours are run.
Will find their early Journey done :
Others, before the Noon is come.
May reach, in peace, their destin'd home.
As from the Journey they retreat.
New Comers fill each vacant seat ; —
But, from events of every day,
Which shorten or obstruct the way.
Few Trav'llers, in the Journey, ken
Of mile-stones full threescore and ten.
Such was the fate of Mrs. Cherry,
At once, fat, cumbersome and merry.
— Many a year was gone and past,
Since she had been at London last,
And all the wonders of the spot
Which she then saw, were now forgot.
But a dear Daughter young and fair
Had married, and was settled there :
Besides, a little Stranger came,
To bless her with a Grannam's name.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 245
More than enough was this to call
The Lady from a country Hall ;
This had the instant power to charm
Her absence from the wealthy Farm,
Where she had long been us'd to reign
The Mistress of the Village train.
Turkey and Fowl, and Ham and Chine,
On which the Cits prefer to dine,
With Partridge too, and eke a Hare,
The luxuries of country Fare,
She closely pack'd with bounteous care ;
And the next morn, at Turnpike Gate,
The Coach received her comely weight.
But the tear stood in either eye,
When her dear Yeoman said, * Good bye.'
For twenty years were gone, for aye.
Since she had left him for a day.
She felt the joy that would attend
And wait upon her journey's end ;
But now they were about to part.
The Mother shar'd but half her heart ;
And fond Affection's tender strife
Betray'd the feelings of the Wife.
The Sun had scarce sunk to the West,
E'er she became her Daughter's guest :
246 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
She kiss'd the Baby o'er and o'er
As babes have oft been kiss'd before ;
And, when it smil'd, was charm'd to see
Each feature of the Family.
— About the Town she whilom rang'd,
And ev'ry day the sight was chang'd :
Each various shew she went to view,
With Bonaparte's Carriage too :
The Panorama's magic space,
And Lord Mayor's Sword and gilded Mace.
She saw once more Sf. Dunstan\ men
Strike, with fierce stroke, the hour of Ten ;
Nor did she think her time ill-spent,
In viewing many a Monument,
Which tells the Hero's patriot story,
And forms the Abbefs gloomy glory.
From St. FauPs domineering dome.
She bade her wond'ring eyes to roam,
And London view'd in all its pride.
With a surrounding world beside.
She felt th' unrivall'd powers of Kean,
And Miss O 'Neil was heard and seen ;
But still with all these new delights,
Her pleasant days and social nights,
She gladden'd when the time was come
That call'd her to her much-lov'd home.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 247
But she was doom'd no more to see
Nor Home nor Husband ; — the Decree
Of Fate had bade her eyes to close,
E'er the next morning's dawn arose.
She kiss'd, with fond, renew'd embrace,
The Offspring of her honest race ;
Then sought the Coach — to take her place.
When Death was there, with horrid grin,
To shove the cumbrous Matron in.
But she, unconscious of her Fate,
Join'd in the Vehicle's debate,
x4nd did her mild discourse supply
With inoffensive pleasantry,
Till the three passengers were gone,
And she, at length, was left alone.
— The Sun had beam'd with cheering ray,
And brighten'd Nature through the day.
But at the Evening's latest hour,
The clouds, as they began to lour,
Did the departing scene deform.
And all foretold the coming storm.
Soon it came on, with beating rain ;
The fierce winds blew an hurricane ;
The thunder roU'd, — dark was the night,—
The Horses, seiz'd with sudden fright,
248 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
No more obey the firm command
Of the stern Coachman's steady hand ;
Then madly quit the beaten road,
And plunge into the river's flood.
Where the impetuous waters rage
Was Mrs. Cherry's last, sad stage.
She scream'd at first, then prayer preferr'd,
But neither scream nor pray'r was heard.
Thus this devoted Matron died,
Where she had only meant to ride.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 249
TIME, DEATH, AND ETERNITY
A NIGHT THOUGHT
Hail, awful darkness ! that with pitchy robe,
Borrowed of Chaos, dost, awhile, enfold
The habitable world, and sea and sky ;
Thee I now woo, at solemn midnight Hour
That listens to the voice of my complaint.
Oft it is heard, when on the restless couch
Of tossing pain, Care lies and weeps till morn,
And sheds its tears, sad, tort'ring tears.
The Essence of the Heart's disastrous woe.
I shed them now, — but long I am not doom'd
To feel their cank'ring drops adown my cheek ;
Death soon will make it pale, and lay me safe
From every mortal pain within the grave.
^ — Come happy hour, — haste on thy swift career,
And with Fate's barbed shaft give wish'd for
What peace on that fell dart? Yes, lasting
peace ; —
250 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Peace that will never interruption know ;
Peace, such as Angels taste, and Heaven bestows.
— Farewell then, thou vain world, no more I bend
To thy capricious power ! nor all the gilded baits
That wealth can boast or Lordly greatness give,
Nor even graceful Beauty's smiling charm
Could tempt me to the treach'rous shore again.
I go where rich and poor together sleep,
And the Slave's dust doth mingle with his Lord :
Where the rod drops from Power's unnerved hand
And Beauty feeds the hunger of the worm.
— You smile, but there the good man's sorrows
And all his Joys begin. The grave 's the path.
The shadowy path which leads to endless day.
Where suns with purest ray, eternal shine,
To their meridian fix'd, and set no more.
Haste then and weave my shroud, and bring
And bear me to be mingled with the dust.
Let not the plumes nod o'er my sable hearse.
Nor Sculpture labour with the flatt'ring strain :
Let not the blazing torch make midnight noon,
To light me to my long and dark abode;
But may the Summer Sun at Evening Hour
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 25 1
Cast its faint rays upon the awful scene,
Where Earth is given to Earth, and Dust to Dust.
Smile then, ye gay ones, as I pour the strain,
Or o'er my plaintive musings breath a sigh
Of friendly pity ! — Grateful I return
The pitying sigh, breath'd from a pensive heart,
A heart, which though it hovers o'er the tomb.
Boasts brighter Joys, than the gay, glitt'ring Scenes
Where your delights are center'd, can bestow.
— I soon shall be at rest : — can ye say that,
Ye Youthful train, who travel through the maze.
The giddy maze of Passion's checquer'd dance ?
Can ye say that, with Fevers in your heart,
That strive each hour to quench the burning flame,
At Pleasure's warm, intoxicating Spring.
Heaven is the seat of Mercy, there enthron'd
The Cherub sits, in mild but awful state :
From thence he views the hearts of mortal men
With pitying eye, and wishes to delay
The stern and steady course of rig'rous Law,
And stops the Scourgeman's hand, to pour a
Into the wounds which vengeful Justice gives
To erring mortals : then invites them back
252 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
From Error's fatal path, to Virtue's way,
And beams eternal sunshine o'er their heads.
Say, what is pleasure, Ye mistaken fair !
Is it to yield your beauties to the wish
Of him who buys with gold the venal Joy ?
Is it to give the mercenary smile
To him you do not love, in sad Exchange
For the gay lustre which adorns your hair,
And all your gawdy show and vain attire,
The Liv'ry of your more than servile state.
Tell me, and tell me true ; — when ye have stray'd
An Evening Hour along the Village path,
Though deck'd in flaunting Fashion's glitt'ring
Have you not envied Virtue's homely dress,
And wish'd to change your mansion for the Cot
Where she, well pleas'd, beneath her humble
Sits smiling o'er the Labours of the Wheel.
Mine is a pensive mind : to me more dear
The Ev'ning's purple hue, and rising mist.
Circling, in mantle grey, the verdant hill
And Sylvan upland, than the mid-day pomp.
Of Nature, gilded by the gorgeous Sun.
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 253
The triumphs of the great, the splendid show
Of proud Magnificence demand in vain
My reverence : more soothing far to me
The Turf that heaves upon the peasant's grave,
And the once fragrant flowers that wither there.
Nor all the sounds of Music strike my soul
With such affecting power, as doth the Knell
Which calls the dead to their expecting home.
— I walk around the Tomb, and pensive view
The quiet cavern, in whose dark abode,
When evil tongues hiss forth the foul abuse.
When Fortune turns away, and Friends prove
Man may a safe, and peaceful refuge find,
A certain refuge and a sure retreat.
— Where is the Covert from Life's frequent
storm ? —
Ye who have long been toss'd upon the tide,
The flowing tide, of Time, O tell me where.
Is it amid the vales where pleasure sports,
With all her airy tribes ; or on the giddy height
Where proud Ambition takes its tott'ring seat ;
Or is it in the dreary, darksome cave,
Where starving Av'rice trembles o'er its gold ?
Is it in bowers form'd of roses sweet.
And hung with every garland of the Spring
254 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
Wove by the Fingers of assiduous Love?
Or where, in Learning's cell the studious lamp
Throws its pale, quiv'ring light upon the page.
By long and midnight toil severely fram'd.
— Nor in the flowery vales where pleasure sports,
Nor where Ambition rears the tottering seat ; —
'Tis not within the Miser's gloomy cave ;
'Tis not within the roseate Bowers of Love,
Nor where the pale Lamp lights the studious sage,
To midnight toil : alas, it is not there.
And while we seek in vain amid the great
Or on the gorgeous thrones where monarchs sit,
It often may be found in humble cot
Where Virtue with the honest peasant dwells.
— And what is Virtue? 'Tis the conscious
Of acting right in spite of every foe,
That may oppose its base malicious aim
To check the pure designs which it inspires.
— It is to stem the tide Corruption rolls
O'er half the world, to curb the impetuous will,
Of lawless passion, and, on Life's vast stage.
To act that noble part which will attain
The good man's praise and the applause of
ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH 255
— Yes, Virtue, potent Virtue, can secure
'Gainst every peril ; 'tis a triple shield
To him who has it, 'gainst the pointed darts
Of ev'ry enemy ; the hour of death
With all its gloom, gives not a fear to him,
Who triumphs o'er the grave ; he stands secure
Amid the ruins of a fallen world.
— Virtue will listen to the trumpet's sound,
With holy awe, yet hear it unappall'd.
And feels Eternity its destin'd sphere : —
When all the works of Man shake to their base,
And the world melts away whereon they stood ;
When Time's last agonising hour is come.
And Death, who, from Creation's pregnant hour,
Has made the world a grave, himself shall die,
When Man from his long slumber shall awake.
And the Day breaks that never more shall close ;
Then Virtue shall its promis'd glory claim.
And find it, too, at the o'erflowing Source
Of Heaven's stupendous and eternal Joys.
INDEX TO THE SECOND VOLUME
I. The Suicide.
Death smiles, and seems his Dart to hide :
When he beholds the Suicide . . . . . i
2. Champagne, Sherry, and Water-Gruei,.
Have patience. Death, nor be so cruel,
To spoil the Sick Man's Water-Gruel . . . . 15
3. The Nursery.
Death rocks the Cradle : Life is o'er :
The Infant sleeps, to wake no more .... 28
4. The Astronomer.
Why, I was looking at the Bear :
But what strange Planet — see I there ? ... 32
5. The Father of the Family.
The Doctors say, that you 're my Booty :
Come, Sir, for I must do my Duty • • • • 37
6. The Fall of Four-in-Hand.
Death can contrive to strike his Blows
By over-turns, and over-throws . . ... 42
VOL. II. — r
25"8 ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
7. Gaffer Goodman.
Another Whiflf — and all is o'er :
And GafiFer Goodman is no more .... 53
8. The Urchin Robbers.
O, the unconscionable Brute !
To murder — for a little Fruit ! . . . . . 60
9. Death turned Pilot.
The fatal Pilot grasps the Helm,
And steers the Crew to Pluto's Realm .... 68
ID. The winding up of the Clock.
* No one but me shall set my Clock ' :
He set it — and behold the Shock ! . . . . 75
II. The Family of Children.
'Twere well to spare me two or three
Out of your num'rous Family ..... 82
12. Death's Door.
In this World all our Comfort 's o'er :
So let us find it at Death's Door ..... 87
13. The Fire,
Let him go on, with all his Rigs ;
We 're safe — He '11 only burn the Pigs . . . 91
14. The Miser's End.
Old Dad, at length, is grown so kind —
He dies, and leaves his Wealth behind . . . g
15. Gretna Green.
Love, spread your Wings, I '11 not out-strip 'em :
Though Death's behind, He will not clip 'em . . ro7
16. The Waltz.
By Gar, that horrid, strange Buffoon
Cannot keep time to any Tune . . . . . 1 16
17. Maternal Tenderness.
Thus, it appears, a Pond of Water,
May prove an Instrument of Slaughter . . . 122
18. The Kitchen.
Thou Slave to ev'ry gorging Glutton :
I '11 spit thee, like a Leg of Mutton .... 129
19. The Gig.
Away they go, in Chaise and one,
Or to undo, or be undone . . . . . . 134
20. The Mausoleum.
Your crabbed Dad is just gone Home ;
And now we look for Joys to come .... 142
21. The Courtship.
It is in vain that you decide :
Death claims you as his destin'd Bride . . . 147
22. The Toastmaster.
' The End of Life,' the Chairman cries ;
'Tis drank — and many a Toper dies . . . . 170
26o ENGLISH DANCE OF DEATH
23. The Careless and the Careful.
The Careful, and the Careless, led
To join the Living and the Dead . . . . . 174
24. The Law overthrown.
The Serjeant's Tongue will cease to brawl
In ev'ry Court of yonder Hall 179
25. The Fortune Teller.
All Fates he vow'd to him were known.
And yet he could not tell his own . . . . 189
26. The Lottery Office.
To trust to Fortune's Smiles alone.
Is the High Road to be undone . . . . .196
27. The Prisoner discharged.
Death, without either Bribe or Fee,
Can set the hopeless Pris'ner free .... 201
28. The Gallant's Downfall.
Th' Assailant does not feel a Wound ;
But yet he dies — for he is drown'd .... 205
29. The Church-Yard Debate.
'Tis strange, but true, in this World's Strife,
That Death affords the Means of Life .
30. The Good and Great.
What heart-felt Tears bedew the Dust
Of Him whose ev'ry Thought was just . . . 219J
31. The next Heir.
'Tis not the Time to meet one's Fate,
Just ent'ring on a large Estate ..... 222
32. The Chamber War.
When Doctors three, the Labour share,
No Wonder Death attends them there . . . 228
33. Death and the Antiquaries.
Death, jealous of his Right, stands Gentry
Over the strange, burglarious Entry .... 232
34. The Dainty Dish,
This fine, hot, Feast 's a Preparation
To some, for Death's last cold Collation . . . 236
35. The Last Stage.
From Hour to Hour, from Youth to Age,
Life's Traveller takes th' uncertain Stage . . . 243
36. Time, Death, and Eternity.
The Song now bursts beyond the Bounds of Time,
And Immortality concludes the Rhyme . . . 249
Edinburgh : Printed by T. and A. Constable